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5th December 2016

NI sporting greats Dame Mary Peters and Bethany Firth are helping The National Lottery celebrate a golden milestone as it surpasses its 500,000th grant award.

The duo got together to mark the occasion at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast - one of the first recipients of National Lottery funding in Northern Ireland.

Bethany, who won three gold and a silver medal during the summer's Paralympic Games in Rio, is one of 1,300 elite athletes supported by the National Lottery through UK Sport.

She said: "National Lottery funding has been instrumental in the success of our athletes at the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games. It allows us to have world-class coaching, training facilities and medical support. I am very grateful to National Lottery players for their continued support.

"It is important to recognise how National Lottery funding makes a life-changing impact on other aspects of society in Northern Ireland. Everything from social groups for older people and parenting support networks to local sports clubs, arts groups and restoration projects benefit."

Dame Mary Peters, whose Mary Peters Trust, helps young aspiring athletes, added: "It is a delight to see sporting talent from Northern Ireland excel on the world stage. And it is important to acknowledge the contributing factors behind that success.

"From the track, which has been named in my honour, to Bethany and the other fine local athletes who competed in Rio, National Lottery funding has certainly made its mark over the last two decades."

More than 500,000 National Lottery grants have now been awarded across the UK since the Lottery began in 1994.

In that time, more than £35 billion of funding has been raised for arts, sports, heritage and community projects by players of National Lottery games.

Jackie O'Sullivan, from the National Lottery, added: "National Lottery funding has helped transform the social and cultural landscape of Northern Ireland for the better.

"Young sports stars like Bethany Firth are inspiration role models for everyone of all ages, while it is vital to be able to give them venues and facilities such as the Mary Peters Track on which they can train and perform. Dame Mary Peters remains one of the true legends of sport not just in Northern Ireland but beyond. National Lottery players should celebrate the difference their funding makes to all walks of life."


Notes to editors

National Lottery players raise £36m each week for good causes. For more information on good causes please visit

For more information on the work of the Mary Peters Trust please visit

For more information contact Ruairi O'Kane on 07788 612804 or email ruairi.o'