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Snow Patrol star Gary Lightbody honours Bangor Court House with National Lottery award

14th December 2023

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody returned to his hometown to crown Bangor Court House as the 2023 National Lottery Project of the Year.

Alison and Kieran from Bangor Courthouse and Gary Lightbody.

The team behind the transformation of the previously decommissioned magistrates court into a thriving arts and live music venue are the first ever project from NI to win the UK-wide public vote.

The Court House is now an independent non-profit venue which hosts a year-round programme of music and arts events and is owned and operated by local charity Open House.

It reopened in October 2022 to provide a much-needed home for the local arts community and help drive local regeneration.

The conversion of the Victorian listed building was supported by National Lottery funding of almost £1 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The restoration project has had huge community support including from the likes of one of Bangor’s most famous sons, the singer/songwriter Gary Lightbody who presented the team with their National Lottery Award.

He said: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to present the team at Bangor Court House with a National Lottery Award as the 2023 National Lottery Project of the Year.

“The transformation of the old court house into an exciting, electrifying and energetic live music venue has meant so much to the city of Bangor and beyond.”

“The fact that people voted in their thousands for this project to win this award is a testament to the dedication and vision of all those involved in bringing this building to life.”

Kieran Gilmore, Open House Director, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the 2023 winners of the National Lottery Project of the Year Award, especially as this is the first time a project from Northern Ireland has lifted the trophy, and we’re beyond grateful to every single person who gave us their vote and helped make it happen.

“Back in the summer of 2013, when we held our first annual Open House Festival in Bangor, we had no idea that the Court House would become both our home and the only dedicated music and arts venue in the town, now city.”

“But when we launched a crowdfunding campaign to save the old, empty building in 2017, the public support we received from our festival audience assured us we were doing the right thing. Those same people supported us through five years of fundraising and renovation and have now become our Court House audience too. They voted for us in their thousands to receive this award, and it belongs to them just as much as it does to us. We’d also like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund for nominating us for the award, and for all the support and encouragement we receive from them.”

Snow Patrol’s, Gary Lightbody awarding Bangor Courthouse their National Lottery Award.

Dr Paul Mullan, Northern Ireland Director at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Congratulations to the Open House team on the magnificent achievement of being voted The National Lottery Project of the Year in the 2023 National Lottery Awards.”

“Their passion and commitment has ensured the revival and rebirth of their building into a dynamic and modern cultural venue.”

“It is our mission at The National Lottery Heritage Fund to not only invest in heritage but to invest in communities. The regeneration of Bangor Court House is a living, breathing example of this in action. National Lottery players can be proud of the role they have played in supporting such a fantastic project.”

The National Lottery Awards are the annual search for the public’s favourite National Lottery funded people and projects.

They celebrate the inspirational individuals and organisations who do extraordinary things with the help of the £30 million raised for good causes every week by National Lottery players.

This year more than 3,700 people and projects were nominated for a National Lottery Awards. Bangor Court House beat off competition from 16 other finalists from across the UK to be named National Lottery Project of the Year in a public vote. They receive a £5,000 cash prize and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.