Playhouse and First Responders need your vote

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Foyle First Responders and The Playhouse are through to the finals of this year’s National Lottery Awards and need your vote to win.

The Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects, and they recognise and celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded projects make to communities across the UK.

The Playhouse is one of only seven projects to make it through to the finals in the Best Heritage Project category and ‘Heart of Foyle’ First Responder Taxi Scheme have been nominated for the Health category.

Foyle First Responder Scheme as it’s known locally, trains and equips taxi drivers to deliver first aid or medical assistance in emergency situations. Their volunteers and drivers are often first on the scene of emergencies and their intervention can save vital minutes and indeed lives by beginning CPR or defibrillation before an ambulance arrives.

The Playhouse buildings are next to Londonderry’s 400-year-old city walls, the largest state monument in Northern Ireland. More than 75 per Cent of the former school buildings have been restored, with the heritage features incorporated into the new elements after an extensive £4.6m capital renovation project.

The buildings are considered one of the best examples in Northern Ireland of how listed properties can be sympathetically restored and fused with modern design and have won numerous awards, including a British Urban Regeneration Award.

The winning project in each category will receive national recognition on a star-studded BBC One TV show in early September and, in addition to the Lottery funding they have already received, will receive a £3,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

Niall McCaughan, Chief Executive of the Playhouse, said: “We are delighted to have reached the finals of The National Lottery Awards. National Lottery funding helped restore our former Grade II listed school buildings which had fallen into a major state of disrepair. The refurbishment transformed our historically important venue into a versatile arts centre which provides a vital and modern facilities for both the entire local community in Derry and the wider cultural and artistic community throughout Northern Ireland and beyond, reaching our goal of making the arts accessible to all.

“We have lost so much of our heritage within the city and across N.Ireland, and we were delighted that Lottery Funding amongst others, helped to put a spotlight on this unique heritage, and save it for future generations. We really hope the public will recognise the enormous amount of good work that goes on at the Playhouse and votes for us as we strive to win a National Lottery Award.”

Eamonn O’Donnell of the Foyle First Responder Scheme said: “It is a fantastic achievement for the Foyle First Responder scheme to reach the finals of the National Lottery Awards. National Lottery funding helped us train and equip 12 taxi drivers to deliver first aid or medical assistance in emergencies in the Derry area.

“Our volunteers and drivers are often closer than the nearest ambulance and can save precious minutes and indeed lives by using their training. This project really does make a life-changing difference and we hope the public get behind us and make us a National Lottery Award winner.”

Voting for the finals started on Wednesday, June 22 and ends at midnight on Wednesday, July 20. To register your vote for both projects log on to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or call 0844 836 9702 for Foyle First Responder Scheme and 0844 836 9670 for The Playhouse.