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Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga honours Northumberland hero with National Lottery Award

14th Hydref 2022

Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga has honoured an inspirational Northumberland hero with a National Lottery Award in recognition of his work providing skills and opportunities to young people through an ambitious restoration project.

David Olusoga honours Clive Gray with National Lottery Award

The BBC broadcaster presented Clive Gray with his award today after it was announced he had won the Heritage category in the 2022 National Lottery Awards.

The National Lottery Awards are the annual celebration of the inspirational individuals and groups who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.

More than 1,300 nominations were received in this year’s campaign and a judging panel selected Clive as a winner because of his ambitious work with young people to help improve employability, life chances and well-being in the North East.

Clive’s Blyth Tall Ship project aims to restore the fortunes of the town and the surrounding region through maritime skills training.

The town of Blyth was once a proud shipbuilding and coal mining community but today is measured in the worst 10 percent of deprived areas in the UK, with high levels of unemployment.

The project began in 2009 to revive fortunes of local people while also marking the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by a ship and sailor from the town, a proud moment in Blyth’s history that had seemingly been forgotten.

The target of the scheme, which has received several grants from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is people not in employment, education or training - or as Clive calls them, “diamonds in the rough”.

A key part of its mission, of which Clive was expedition chairman, was to restore a 100-year-old tall ship and train volunteers in seafaring skills, to recreate and pay tribute to the historic voyage in 1819.

Clive Gray with his National Lottery Award

Clive Gray said: "I’m delighted to be a winner in the National Lottery Awards 2022 and I can only accept it on behalf of the whole Blyth Tall Ship family, because from the very start we have been a dynamic and innovative organisation made up of volunteers and a few key, highly skilled personnel.

“Combining that local enthusiasm with the National Lottery funding that Blyth Tall Ship has received, has enabled us to do so much for our community.

“Using Blyth’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage, we are now providing vital skills training to boost employability, life chances and well-being in the North East. I'm so grateful to the National Lottery for recognising this important work.”

David Olusoga added: “Clive is a thoroughly deserving winner of this award. It’s amazing to see how he’s helped so many young people in difficult circumstances and given them the tools to build something truly exciting.

“Blyth has an incredibly proud shipbuilding heritage, so it’s great to see a project engaging with that past while also providing vital skills for the future.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, Clive has been able to keep Blyth’s shipbuilding story afloat.”

Winners in each category received a £5,000 cash prize for their organisation and a National Lottery Awards trophy.

Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the UK every week, which in turn helps people like Clive continue to carry out incredible work in their communities.