The results of this year's National Lottery Awards were announced at a glittering gala ceremony in London on Saturday (5 November) and two groups from Northern Ireland were named amongst the winners.
We Were Brothers: WW1 A Shared Heritage, from Derry, was voted the UK's Best Heritage Project, and Hands That Talk, based in Dungiven, was voted the UK's Best Voluntary/Charity Project.
They beat hundreds of projects from across the UK to win the prestigious titles at the National Lottery Awards event, which was broadcast live on BBC One and hosted by Myleene Klass.
Community Horticultural Enterprise - a project based in Lisnaskea - collected a runners-up award in the Best Education category (in association with Best magazine).
Representatives from the Northern Ireland groups mingled with celebrity guests at this year's star-studded awards event, including athletes Colin Jackson and Hanna England, Diversity's Ashley Banjo and Perri Kiely, Dragon's Den's Hilary Devay, Professor Robert Winston, Dr. Pamela Stephenson and Holby City's Laila Rouass.
Accepting the award for Best Heritage Project, We Were Brothers author, Felicity McCall, said: "It is an absolute honour to have won this award and a real boost for everyone involved to receive national recognition for their hard work and dedication. I accept this award with immense gratitude to the National Lottery and in the name of the thousands of Brothers and Sisters whose commitment to reconciliation made it possible."
Picking up the Best Voluntary/Charity Project award, Dorothy Hegarty from Hands That Talk also said: "This truly is an honour. We have received fantastic support throughout all stages of the competition and I would especially like to thank everyone who has voted for us. The Awards have given us a great opportunity to highlight the project and it's great to be able to thank everyone who has ever played the Lottery and show what a real difference their money can make."
Presenting the National Lottery Awards, Myleene Klass said: "National Lottery players raise £30 million every week for large and small projects across the UK. The National Lottery Awards are a fantastic way of celebrating the enormous amount of hard work that goes into making these projects a success. All the finalists make a real difference to people and communities every day with their Lottery funding. Lottery players should be proud of the life-changing impact that their money has."
About the projects:
• We Were Brothers: WW1 A Shared Heritage, based in Derry - winner of the Best Heritage Project. We Were Brothers: WW1 A Shared Heritage is a play, a DVD, a book, an interactive website and a youth project. Made possible by Lottery funding, the projects remembers the heritage of soldiers from both the Unionist and the Nationalist traditions who served side by side with the British army in WW1, as members of the Ulster Battalions or the Irish Volunteers.
• Hands That Talk, based in Dungiven - winner of the Best Voluntary/Charity Project. Hands That Talk is a charity that improves the quality of life for deaf people by providing access to employment, education and services. It has also enabled the deaf community to experience a much more deaf aware society where communication barriers have been broken down and opportunities exist for personal growth and confidence building. Lottery funding has allowed the project to train much needed new interpreters, giving the deaf community increased access to communication support.
• Community Horticultural Enterprise, based in Lisnaskea - runners-up for Best Education Project (in association with Best magazine). Community Horticultural Enterprise started off as an allotment garden in 2006 and, with the help of Lottery funding, is now providing training courses, workshops and classes in order to help local people counteract social disadvantage and to understand the interdependence of the environment, health and quality of life.
About The National Lottery Awards
The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects. Over 800 projects entered this year, and all the projects entered in the competition had already received Lottery funding. The Awards recognise the difference that these projects make to local communities, and celebrate the achievements of the people behind them. There were seven categories in the Awards, each reflecting an area of Lottery funding. A short film on each of the finalists was also played during the special BBC One programme.
For more information on the Awards and the winners across all seven categories go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
Pictured outside The Playhouse after the recent awards ceremony are Niall McCaughan, Peter McDonald, David Doherty, Felicity McCall, Steven Wakely, Bernadette Mahon, Stephen Graydon, Damien Coyle and Shaun Coyle
Click here to watch a video of the National Lottery Awards!