Deaf project hits jackpot

There was celebration tinged with commiseration in Norfolk today as a charity for the deaf beat a community garden project to scoop an £80,000 prize.Norfolk Deaf Association (NDA) was overjoyed at the news that its Listen Here! Minibus Project had won the public backing in yesterday's People's Millions TV vote.

There was celebration tinged with commiseration in Norfolk today as a charity for the deaf beat a community garden project to scoop an £80,000 prize.

Norfolk Deaf Association (NDA) was overjoyed at the news that its Listen Here! Minibus Project had won the public backing in yesterday's People's Millions TV vote.

The windfall from the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) will pay for a minibus that will bring vital help to the doorsteps of deaf people across the county.

But there was disappointment in Swaffham that its Sensory Garden Project lost out to the NDA, despite a massive push for votes that saw leaflets distributed throughout the town.

The Swaffham project to provide a stimulating garden for young and old will have a second chance to win the money on Friday, when the most popular runner-up from the week's voting will be rewarded.

Different projects from the East of England and other regions across the UK are competing for up to £80,000 each night this week and throughout the country regional projects will receive £7.8m in the contest.

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The delighted surprise of the NDA at receiving its cheque was broadcast on ITV Anglia East this evening.

Gill Girling, of the NDA, said: “We are just so thrilled to have won, we really did not know who would take it because they were both outstanding projects.

“I think everybody at the NDA will remember this day for a long time, as will the people in Norfolk with hearing loss who will benefit from this project.

“We did feel sad for the Swaffham project, it was a shame there had to be a loser.”

The Listen Here minibus will allow trained volunteers to travel across the county offering support with hearing aids, equipment, information, advice, signposting and more.

Ms Girling said the association hoped the minibus would be ready to go out and about around Norfolk within a matter of weeks and paid tribute to the work of Liz Nobbs, disability access manager for the NDA.

Sheila Lister, chairman of the friends of Swaffham recreation ground committee, said she was feeling a mixture of disappointment and pride.

“I am sad that we did not win but I am so proud of the hard work and support that has been put into promoting this, I do not think we could have done more.

“It is disappointing but we have still got Friday and we just hope that we have done enough to get through then.”

* Next week four national projects will battle it out for a £50m prize from the BLF, including the Sustrans Connect2 project that would see a new cycleway built between Griston and Watton, with people already able to vote online, and by phone from next week.

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