Gethin Jones backs Derry’s St Columba Centre

TV presenter Gethin Jones has thrown his weight behind Derry's bid.
TV presenter Gethin Jones has thrown his weight behind Derry's bid.

TV presenter Gethin Jones has thrown his weight behind St Columba Heritage Centre’s bid to take the National Lottery Awards’ Heritage crown.

Áras Cholmcille/ St Columba Heritage Centre, located in Derry’s former ‘Wee Nuns’ School at Long Tower, beat off stiff competition from more than 600 organisations to reach the public vote stage in this year’s Awards last month.

GOT MY VOTE!. . . . .Minister for the Environment, Mark H. Durkan pictured on Wednesday morning giving his vote to the Aras Cholmcille (St. Columba) Heritage Centre's National Lottery Awards 2015 finalist appeal. Included in photo are Mairead Fox, Centre manager, Manus Deery, Principal Conservation Architect and Alex Mullan, assistant manager. DER2815MC025

GOT MY VOTE!. . . . .Minister for the Environment, Mark H. Durkan pictured on Wednesday morning giving his vote to the Aras Cholmcille (St. Columba) Heritage Centre's National Lottery Awards 2015 finalist appeal. Included in photo are Mairead Fox, Centre manager, Manus Deery, Principal Conservation Architect and Alex Mullan, assistant manager. DER2815MC025

The centre’s staff have been now appealing for local votes as they strives to land the coveted title, and Lottery Awards Ambassador Gethin Jones’ support is expected to provide a welcome boost for the campaign.

In a letter calling for people to back the Derry centre’s bid, Gethin writes:

“St Columba Heritage Centre needs your readers’ support to help it win in the National Lottery Awards 2015.

“St Columba Heritage Centre promotes the early monastic history and cultural heritage of Derry~Londonderry, 2013 UK City of Culture and its founding father, Columba, preserving his legacy for future generations, [and] is up against six other finalists from around the UK for Best Heritage project, and is the only entrant from Derry~Londonderry in this category, competing for a £2,000 prize and the chance to feature on a BBC One show in September.”

ARAS CHOLMCILLE. . .The St. Columba Heritage Centre, pictured from the steps of the Long Tower Church. DER1915MC040

ARAS CHOLMCILLE. . .The St. Columba Heritage Centre, pictured from the steps of the Long Tower Church. DER1915MC040

Voting closes at midnight on Wednesday 29 July. To cast your vote go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards.

The centre- dedicated to Derry’s founder and patron saint- is hoping to emerge victorious in the annual search for the most popular Lottery-funded projects.

St Columba Heritage Centre promotes the early monastic history and cultural heritage of Derry and its Donegal-born founding father.

Grainne McCafferty, chairperson of the Áras Cholmcille Trust, said winning the prestigious National Lottery Award and having their work showcased on national television would be an honour.

“National Lottery funding has enabled us to restore the B2-listed derelict ‘Wee Nuns’ school building and transform it into a visitor centre with exhibition space dedicated to the story of Columba and the foundation of this ancient city.

“We are now appealing for everyone to get behind us and vote for us in these awards to secure further recognition for this fantastic project.”

TV star and actor John Barrowman will be presenting the National Lottery Awards for the fifth time this year.