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Jenni Falconer honours Glasgow Sport Hero with National Lottery Award

11th October 2022

Broadcaster and fitness enthusiast, Jenni Falconer, has honoured an inspirational Glasgow hero with a National Lottery Award in recognition of his voluntary work getting people out and active in one of the city’s most deprived areas.

Two people (Jenni Falconer and Eric Sproul) holding a National Lottery Awards trophy
Jenni Falconer with National Lottery Award winner, Eric Sproul

The breakfast radio host and keen marathon runner presented Easterhouse resident and volunteer cycle leader, Eric Sproul, with his prize today after it was announced he had won the Sport hero award in the National Lottery Awards 2022.

The National Lottery Awards celebrate the inspirational people and organisations across the UK who have done extraordinary things with National Lottery funding.

For much of his life Easterhouse born and raised, Eric, battled scoliosis, a condition where the spine twists and curves. Facing constant pain, he also suffered from depression, isolation and struggled to find a job. After ten years of seeing no way out, he planned to take his own life.

But his mother’s death proved a catalyst for change. She left him a small amount of money in her will and insisted that he should buy a bike, something that brought Eric joy and happiness growing up as a child.

With the help of the bike and a newfound sense of freedom, Eric’s mental and physical wellbeing improved. He read online about the Phoenix Community Centre, part of The National Lottery supported Easterhouse Community Sports Hub, and went along to see what it was about.

Now he is there all day, every day, supporting the voluntary running of the centre and attending the table tennis club twice a week. He is also a volunteer cycle leader running the centre’s cycle programme after taking a series of bike maintenance and leadership courses.

Eric says: “It was the bike that changed my life. Anger and depression had taken over and I couldn’t break out of it. I am scared to think where I would be if I didn’t buy that bike after a decade of hell.

“The Phoenix Centre means everything to me. I speak to people and do things I never used to do. I thought, if cycling can do that for me, maybe I can use what I've been through to help others. I love cycling and I give back that way.

“It’s a real privilege to win a National Lottery Award and receive this recognition. We can get more parts for our bikes at the centre, new equipment – it's just brilliant. I hope to continue to use the experiences I’ve had to keep helping other people get active and change more lives.”

When nominations for the National Lottery Awards opened in April this year, members of the public were called upon to put forward individuals who have made an incredible impact in their community with the help of National Lottery funding.

A judging panel whittled down more than 1,300 incredible nominees to just six winners and Eric faced stiff competition to become the winner in this year’s Sport category.

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

A women (Jenni Falconer) holding a National Lottery Awards trophy
Jenni Falconer with National Lottery Awards trophy

Jenni travelled to Glasgow to present Eric with his trophy and to congratulate him on his achievement.

Jenni said: “I know myself how important sport is in dealing with the stresses that life throws at us. Physical and mental health go hand in hand. Finding an activity that you love doing can be life changing.

“It’s an incredible honour to give Eric this trophy for The National Lottery Awards Sport hero. Eric is an amazing example of harnessing the power of physical activity to boost mental wellbeing and paying it forward by volunteering his time to his local community. I hope his story inspires more people to think about revisiting the sports and activities they love as a way of improving other areas of their lives.”

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

Phoenix Community Centre is part of The National Lottey supported Easterhouse Community Sports Hub, which partners with and is supported locally by Glasgow Life who have assisted the development of Cycling in Easterhouse. The community sport hub programme is one of sportscotland’s key programmes to support local sport. It brings together sport clubs and community organisations to develop and grow sport at a local level. The National Lottery funded programme is central to sportscotland’s commitment to ensuring that everyone gets the best out of Scotland’s world-class sporting system.