Derry’s Columba Centre named Lottery finalist

Children from local schools released doves at Aras CholmCille/ St Columba Heritage Centre at Longtower when it officially opened. Photo: Stephen Latimer.
Children from local schools released doves at Aras CholmCille/ St Columba Heritage Centre at Longtower when it officially opened. Photo: Stephen Latimer.
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Derry’s Áras Cholmcille/ St Columba Heritage Centre has beat off stiff competition from more than 600 organisations to reach the public vote stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards.

The centre’s staff are now appealing for local votes as it strives to land a coveted National Lottery Awards title.

The refurbished Aras Cholmcille (St. Columba's Heritage Centre), formerly known as the Wee Nuns, in the grounds of St. Columba's, Church, Long Tower. DER2314MC108

The refurbished Aras Cholmcille (St. Columba's Heritage Centre), formerly known as the Wee Nuns, in the grounds of St. Columba's, Church, Long Tower. DER2314MC108

The Long Tower 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.

The St Columba Heritage Centre is competing against six other contenders to be crowned the winner of the Heritage category.

Winners of the seven National Lottery Awards categories will get a £2,000 cash prize, a National Lottery Awards trophy and attend a star-studded awards ceremony, broadcast on BBC One in September.

St Columba Heritage Centre promotes the early monastic history and cultural heritage of Derry and its Donegal-born founding father, Columba, preserving his legacy for future generations.

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

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.

“We are absolutely delighted to reach the finals of the National Lottery Awards. The St Columba Heritage Centre promotes the early monastic history and cultural heritage of Derry~Londonderry and its founder, Columba, preserving his shared legacy for future generations.

“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.

He said: “The exceptionally selfless work carried out by National Lottery Awards finalists never fails to astound me. Their work deserves to be celebrated nationally; the community spirit, social cohesion and compassion.

“It is crucial that you show your support for your local project so it can get the national glory that it richly deserves. National Lottery players should swell with pride that £34 million of Lottery funding is raised every single week for projects like this across the UK.”

To vote for the St Columba Heritage Centre please go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or telephone 0844 836 9675 and follow the campaign on Twitter: hashtag #NLAwards.

Telephone voting calls cost 5p max (a connection charge may be applied by some networks.)

Voting runs for five weeks from 9am today, Wednesday 24 June, through until midnight on Wednesday 29 July.

There are seven projects competing for votes across seven categories, reflecting the main areas of National Lottery funding: arts, sport, heritage, health, environment, education and voluntary/charity.

Áras Cholmcille St Columba Heritage Centre received £744,500 of National Lottery funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund.