Straight-talking Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell is calling on local organisations who have received National Lottery funding to enter this year’s National Lottery Awards.
The actor, who played wild-child Michelle Mallon in the hit Channel 4 comedy, joined fellow Derry girls and boys from the Model Primary School in the city at the Bluebell Arts Project’s Issues in Your Tissues programme to launch this year’s awards.
It is one of thousands of organisations across Northern Ireland which can now enter the 2018 National Lottery Awards – the annual search for the public’s favourite National Lottery projects.
Jamie-Lee and the school children took part in a series of activities including dancing and role-playing aimed at exploring feelings and combatting negative thoughts.
Jamie-Lee O’Donnell said: “Mental health is such an important issue, especially amongst young people in Derry.
“It was fantastic to see the brilliant work of the Bluebell Arts Project and how they manage to engage young people through music and drama to make them feel better about themselves.
“National Lottery players should feel proud to support such an important project. It would be brilliant to see them and other local organisations recognised in the National Lottery Awards. I’d encourage anyone who knows of a National Lottery funded project carrying out life-changing work in their community to nominate them for an award.”
Angie Gallagher, Arts Development Officer at the Bluebell Arts Project, added: “It was a pleasure to have Jamie-Lee with us and taking part in our Issues in your Tissues project.
“The success of Derry Girls was a great boost to the city and Jamie-Lee is a real role model for our young people.
“Funding from the National Lottery through the Arts of Council of Northern Ireland has allowed us to deliver fun and engaging workshops and outreach programmes promoting positive mental health for young Derry girls and boys throughout the city.”
Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, said: “A total of £1 billion of National Lottery players’ money has been invested in more than 20,000 projects in Northern Ireland.
“The Bluebell Arts Project is a fine example of an organisation who use their funding to make a life-changing difference in their community.
“They, and any other project who has received National Lottery funding in the past, are eligible to enter the National Lottery Awards and I would urge anyone who wishes to be considered for this year’s awards to make sure their entry or nomination is completed before the 6 April deadline.”
Last year more than 1300 projects entered the National Lottery Awards by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk, by tweeting @LottoGoodCauses with a suggestion or calling 0207 293 3599. This year entries must be received by midnight on 6 April 2018.
There are seven categories in the National Lottery Awards, Arts, Education, Environment, Health, Heritage, Sport and Voluntary/Charity.
Seven projects will battle it out in each category in a public vote from 29 June until 27 July. The winners, who will be announced in September will receive a £5,000 prize, an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and will be honoured a star-studded ceremony in London which will be broadcast on BBC One later in the year.
Previous National Lottery Award winners from Derry include the Bogside & Brandywell Health Forum who were named Best Health Project in 2012 and Felicity McCall’s WW1 theatre production We Were Brothers which won the Best Arts Project in 2011.
Previous National Lottery Awards from Northern Ireland include Monkstown Boxing Club’s BoxClever project, named Best Education project in 2015 and Belfast’s St George’s Market which won the Best Heritage Project category in 2014.