Alistair Carmichael: Lottery made us all winners

Twenty years ago today, the first numbers of the ­National Lottery were spun. Eyes in households across Edinburgh were glued to their TV sets, imagining what they would do with the jackpot if their six numbers came up.

This was just the start of the relationship between the UK and one of our best-loved institutions.

Twenty years on – and with around 70 per cent of the UK adult population now playing – the National Lottery has produced many jackpot winners but more importantly has raised over £32 billion for thousands of good causes up and down the country.

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With people playing across the whole of the UK, there can be no doubt prizes are bigger and most importantly the number of good cause projects we can support in Scotland is greater.

With £512 million being provided to support more than 5700 projects in Edinburgh, you don’t have to go far to see the positive impact the lottery has made here. It has funded some of the city’s biggest restorations projects and helped construct some of its most striking buildings.

More than £17m of Lottery ­funding helped redevelop the National Museum of Scotland, £4.8m went towards the first restoration in the history of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, £1.6m helped restore Sir Walter Scott’s monument and £16.5m helped construct Dynamic Earth – a fitting tribute to James Hutton, another of Edinburgh’s famous sons.

The Lottery, however, is not just about million-pound projects – the nuts and bolts is about changing the lives of the community and the individual for the better. Last week I ­visited First Port a development agency based in the West End which helps individuals and start-up social enterprises turn bright ideas into viable social businesses by providing expert mentoring, training as well as financial support.

Earlier this year it received just over £1m of Lottery funding and through social enterprise Homes for Good I saw how Firstport’s backing is helping its excellent work in supporting vulnerable and young people access safe and secure housing.

The National Lottery has become part of the fabric of our country, it’s improved our arts, protected our heritage, regenerated our communities, supported amazing charities, provided better sporting facilities for everyone and helped finance some of our greatest sporting heroes.

While some have won the jackpot and many others have won prizes there can be no doubt that for Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland we are all winners from the National Lottery.

Alistair Carmichael is Secretary of State for Scotland

More than £512m to help city projects

Edinburgh has benefited from more than £512m of Lottery funding for over 5700 projects including:

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• £17m of Heritage Lottery funding for the Royal Museum Project – part of the National Museum of Scotland.

• £16m of funding from the Millennium Commission towards Dynamic Earth.

• More than £4m of Heritage Lottery funding to City of Edinburgh Council for the restoration of Saughton Park.