National Lottery at 20 - A look at the winners and big beneficiaries in the region
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A tax on stupidity or a harmless flutter? Love it or hate it, this week the National Lottery will be 20 years old. Lives have been changed - for better or for worse. Annabelle Dickson looks at the millionaires made, and the projects in this region which have been bankrolled by the gambling innovation.
State-sponsored gambling or a great British success story – the National Lottery has always been controversial.
This week it will be 20 years since its first draw in 1994.
Since then, across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire more than £650m has been ploughed into heritage projects, sports schemes and community initiatives, including 5,000 projects in Norfolk, 359 grants worth £228m in Cambridgeshire and 2,218 grants across Suffolk.
And 41 people in Norfolk have won more than £1m in Norfolk, with a further 372 winning over £50,000, while 29 millionaires in Suffolk and 266 major prize-winners have been created in Suffolk.
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As the two-decade total has been published, prime minister David Cameron has hailed then-leader Sir John Major's 'vision', which he claimed was 'changing lives'.
'He gave the lottery the green light – despite much opposition – and his reasoning was clear: to 'fund a rebirth of cultural and sporting life in Britain'. And it has done just that; in fact, a large proportion of our hugely successful Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the training of virtually all of our athletes, were funded by the lottery', said Mr Cameron.
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'These are athletes who made 2012 a golden summer of sport, who continue to delight and amaze us with their skills and will inspire the next generation of kids to play sport.'
It was controversial however to put so much money into the 2012 Games, and there as a feeling that charities were missing out.
But there is not doubt that parts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have been transformed.
Norwich Castle and its museum and galleries of modern art, history and culture has received funding from the National Lottery.
And in the west, the 'Transforming Lives' project run by West Norfolk Carers, received £211,202 and provides support and advice to young adult carers and their families.
It works in the poorest parts of King's Lynn and the rurally-isolated communities of west Norfolk to help provide carers and their families with a strong support network.
Mr Cameron said; 'I've spent years explaining the Big Society to people; but the National Lottery has been demonstrating it week in, week out, for two decades.
'Whether they go to the local shop or play online, when they pick their numbers and buy their tickets, people in Norfolk are not just in with a shot at scooping a big prize – they're also making a massive difference to their local environment, helping arts bodies thrive and attract tourists, ensuring we can protect Britain's heritage sites to teach kids about history, and, of course, supporting the amazing work of countless charities.'
Here's a look at the main lottery-funded projects in Norfolk...
• THE FORUM
The Forum, in Norwich, is probably the county's highest profile project to win National Lottery funding. In 1997 it was awarded almost £32.5m. The money helped create a building which is now one of the best-loved in Norfolk. When fire consumed Norwich's concrete central library, few could have predicted that its replacement would be hailed as an architectural masterpiece and come to be ranked with the castle and cathedral as one of Norwich's 12 iconic buildings.
• THE SPORTSPARK
Norwich really hit the National Lottery jackpot in 1997, with another £14.5m going to the University of East Anglia Sportspark. An Olympic-sized swimming pool, the largest sports hall in the region, state-of-the-art athletics facilities, a climbing wall and a complex of sports pitches and courts were all made possible by the addition of a huge National Lottery grant, to local and national funds.
Some of Norwich's most beautiful parks, including Eaton, Heigham, Wensum and Waterloo, were created in the 1920s and 1930s. As well as providing generations of Norwich people with open spaces dotted with ponds and pavilions, bandstands and pergolas, the landscapes dreamed up and designed by city parks superintendent Captain Sandys-Winsch gave jobs to many men who had returned from the war to poverty and unemployment. By the 1990s the parks, although recognised as some of the glories of Norwich, needed urgent attention. The £4m National Lottery grant allowed them to be restored to their former glory.
• WEST RUNTON ELEPHANT
One of the first National Lottery grants was made to the Norfolk Museums Service in 1995, to help fund the excavation of the steppe mammoth skeleton, discovered in the cliff face at West Runton. The mammoth, which became known as the West Runton Elephant, roamed the North Norfolk coast 6-7,000 years ago. The species was the largest type of elephant that has ever lived, the largest land animal apart from the very biggest dinosaurs and the largest elephant skeleton ever found, anywhere in the world. The £40,000 lottery grant helped pay for the removal and preservation of the remarkable bones – some of which can be seen in Cromer Museum and Norwich Castle Museum.
• NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST
When the Norfolk Wildlife Trust was given almost £2.3m, in 1998, it was the biggest Lottery Heritage Fund grant ever made. A year earlier its first National Lottery grant helped with restoration work at Hickling Broad and over the next few years there were also grants of more than £600,000 to buy land at Upton Broad Marshes, near Acle, preserving some of the most beautiful and wildlife-rich landscapes of the Broads.
• THE WALKS, KING'S LYNN
A £4.3m National Lottery grant helped restore the only surviving 18th-century town walk in Norfolk. The King's Lynn Walks is a nationally-important 42-acre park, designed as an escape from the bustle of the town and inspired by on the parkland surrounding stately homes. It incorporates the unique 15th-century Red Mount chapel, built for pilgrims walking to the shrine at Walsingham, and has now been restored to take its place, once again, at the heart of historic Lynn.