By Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of the National Lottery Promotions Unit
Who remembers what happened in 1994?
Schindler’s List, starring Liam Neeson, won seven Oscars; Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president and three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna died in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix in Immola, Italy.
Closer to home, Northern Ireland was still four years from the Good Friday Agreement while Armagh was restored to city status as the Lagan Weir was completed in Belfast.
Amidst all this the very first National Lottery draw took place.
And now almost a quarter of a century later, Northern Ireland is a very different place to what it was back then.
Contributing to that change is the more than £1billion invested by the National Lottery in the form of 20,000 grants.
And the National Lottery funding awarded by the Big Lottery Fund has had a significant positive impact on our community.
The £23 million transformation of the Connswater Community Greenway in east Belfast is a living, breathing example of an area reborn.
With 16km of cycling and walking trails, a civic square and new bridges and crossing points, the project has created a living landmark and a real legacy for future generations.
This award was the second largest ever in Northern Ireland behind the £45 million allocated by the Millennium Commission to the now SSE Arena.
This shining success story features in a new film by the National Lottery highlighting the impact of funding on Northern Ireland.
But when you buy a National Lottery ticket it is not only big ticket items you are supporting.
The majority of National Lottery grants are for £10,000 or less which provide vital support to charities and organisations working to improve our health and education.
The Memories Café, run by the Alzheimer’s Society provides a relaxed environment for people with dementia and their carers.
National Lottery funding has provided a lifeline for these people allowing them to enjoy social activities and combat loneliness and isolation.
National Lottery players can be proud to have supported such wonderful life-changing programmes.
So if you want to know what the National Lottery has done for you and your area please visit: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk