James Nesbitt And Derry's Walls Our Best Loved Treasures
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Ulster University chancellor and acclaimed actor James Nesbitt and Derry’s historic Walls have been named as Northern Ireland’s ‘National Treasures,’ following an online poll to celebrate 20 years of the National Lottery.
James Nesbitt beat off world number one golfer Rory McIlroy in a public vote to be named NI’s favourite famous face. The TV and film star was honoured for his role as Chancellor of the Ulster University and his patronage of charities Action Cancer and WAVE Trauma Centre which have all received National Lottery funding. He also starred in the National Lottery-funded film Bloody Sunday.
The Maiden City’s 400-year-old walls were named NI’s most iconic place ahead of the Giant’s Causeway and the Ulster Museum in Belfast in a survey which asked the general public to choose from a range of venues which had received National Lottery funding.
The National Treasures were announced ahead of the 20th anniversary of the first National Lottery draw, which took place on 19 November 1994. Since then players have raised £32 billion for 450,000 charities, arts, sports and heritage projects, and the National Lottery has created more than 3,600 millionaires and paid out £53 billion in prizes.
Both the actor and the walls were honoured at an event at the Verbal Arts Centre, were Nesbitt took time to meet students from the centre’s Journalism course and join in a session of the Reading Rooms – a literacy and literature project – with the local Rathmor 50+ community group.
James Nesbitt said: “To win any award voted for by the public is an honour. I am very proud of my roots and where I come from. But I am also very proud to be able to represent such a fantastic institution such as the Ulster University and my other charities Action Cancer and WAVE Trauma Centre, all of which have benefited from National Lottery funding.”
“Over the past few years I have been able to see the valuable work carried out by these organisations in each of their fields, helping to build a better and brighter future for Northern Ireland.
“I am also delighted to see the Walls of Derry recognised too. My affinity to the city grew when I played the role of Ivan Cooper in Bloody Sunday. It is fitting this landmark, which has played such an important role in the city’s past, has its heritage preserved and protected for future generations.”
The Holywell Trust in Derry, received £446,000 in National Lottery funding, via the Heritage Lottery Fund, for the City Walls Heritage Project to engage people with the heritage of the Walled City and ensuring they are valued, protected and cherished for years to come.
Eamonn Deane, from the Holywell Trust/City Walls Heritage Project, said: “We are delighted that the City Walls have been recognised as a National Treasure. We have been working to engage local people to realise the shared history that the City Walls represent. This vote is a reflection of how important the City Walls are to the people of the City. The City Walls are truly a treasure that are treasured locally that more and more people are coming to appreciate.”
Vicki Kennedy, from the National Lottery, added: “In the last 20 years Northern Ireland has had a new story to tell to the world and the National Lottery are delighted to have played our part by helping to transform its social, cultural and even physical landscape.
“Northern Ireland is now home to some of the best museums, arts venues, sporting facilities and visitor attractions in the world. National Lottery players can be proud to have supported so many of them.
“The National Treasures survey was a fun way of celebrating these places and recognising the contribution Lottery players make towards them. James Nesbitt has rightfully earned his place as Northern Ireland’s favourite son not only for his remarkable on-screen accomplishments but for his tireless commitments to the Ulster University and his charity work for Action Cancer and WAVE Trauma Centre.
“And while the National Lottery has been responsible for creating many new cultural landmarks in Northern Ireland, Derry’s historic walls are a worthy winner of the National Treasure title. The work of the City Walls Heritage Project is invaluable in preserving their rich heritage and inspiring people to recognise their value.”
Notes to editors
• The shortlisted iconic places in Northern Ireland were: Derry’s Walls, the Giant’s Causeway, the Ulster Museum, Sam Thompson Landmark Bridge, SS Nomadic, the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh, the Ulster Hall, the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC), the Lyric Theatre, the Albert Clock, St Patrick Visitor Centre, Downpatrick and the Odyssey Complex.
• James Nesbitt topped the poll for the in Northern Ireland. He secured almost 50 per cent of the vote – a higher percentage share than any other celebrity in the votes in England, Wales and Scotland. He was nominated because of the National Lottery link to the Ulster University, where he is chancellor, Action Cancer and WAVE Trauma Centre, where he is a patron and the film Bloody Sunday in which he had a lead role.
• Granada Films received £299,500 for Bloody Sunday from the UK Film Council in 2001 and 2002.
• Action Cancer has received £126,396 from the Big Lottery Fund and Community Fund from 1996 to 2011.
• WAVE Trauma Centre received £49,767 from the Big Lottery Fund to create their Garden of Hope in 2009.
• The Ulster University has received £9,974,540 from the Big Lottery Fund, Arts Council Northern Ireland, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sport Northern Ireland and UK Sport for a number of initiatives from 1998 to 2013. These include repairs to Magee College (£213,000), the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Library Project (£500,500) the building of the Sports Institute (£8.5m) and the John Hewitt collection (£58,800)
• There were more than 66,000 votes in the National Treasures survey, which took place online in May 2014
For more information contact Ruairi O’Kane on 07788 612804 or ruairi.o’email@example.com
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