Exciting news from the press office downstairs here at the Department last week. Their syndicate won the Lottery.
No mass walk-out, though. Apparently it was a relatively modest £53 for matching four balls and not, as such, a potentially life-changing amount. Even less so when divided by 22*, the number of members in the syndicate, but they were chuffed about it nonetheless. Multiply the prize by a factor of around a million, and divide the pool of winners by eleven, however, and you get a sense of how that couple from Nottinghamshire must have felt when they pulled down the £45 million Euromillions jackpot the other week. Chuffed, I suspect, would not cover it. And for those of us who haven’t been visited by Lady Luck – yet – there’s always next time of course. **
Nominate YOUR Favourite Lottery Project
Once a year the public – and in particular the people from those communities that are on the receiving end of the money, I imagine – get a chance to vote for their favourite project. And then in the autumn there’s a full-blown awards ceremony, live on BBC1, with appropriate bells and whistles and a chance for the Lottery ticket buying public to see short films highlighting where the money goes. Last year it got three million viewers, and I suspect that most of them went away from it all feeling that their money had been well-spent, even if that was the last thing on their mind when they bought the ticket. So if you know of a project that is making an outstanding impact in your community you can nominate it through the National Lottery Good Causes website.
And while we’re talking about the Lottery and the money that goes to good causes, I was pleased to see some projections this week which seem to show that, because the National Lottery is more popular than ever these days, the amount likely to go to charities, the arts, sport and our heritage is set to be even more than predicted a couple of years ago. These are projections rather than predictions, remember, but it’s very encouraging for all that. My ministerial colleague Ed Vaizey was talking about this recently in the context of arts funding, but the same goes for heritage and sport.
Posh backs GREAT
Meanwhile the GREAT campaign to encourage people from all overseas to come to the UK is ‘rolling out’ in different places with brilliant launches in different cities all over the world, and still more to come. Victoria Beckham has agreed to be an ambassador and her appearance at a GREAT photo-call in New York effortlessly generated acres of coverage – we’re fortunate indeed to have her backing, and she deserves our gratitude. As do all the other celebrities who will feature in ads over the weeks to come, promoting the UK – all of the UK – as a great place for a holiday this year, and in the future.
Blue Plaques and Coronation Chicken
Finally, a word of praise for English Heritage and their Blue Plaque Scheme which, as you probably know, is a clever way of marking the buildings – located in London, although there are similar schemes run by others outside the capital – where a person of note lived or worked, or where a particular event of historical significance took place. There are more than 800 EH Blue Plaques in London, and I think they’re a brilliant addition to the city***. They add interest to a walk, send your thoughts off in all sorts of unexpected directions and, best of all, with their elegant design are little style icons in themselves.
The most recent one to be unveiled was at the site in Mayfair where Constance Spry (1886-1960) had her shop. Ms Spry had an interesting and colourful life but is best remembered for revolutionising the art of flower arranging, and being responsible for the flowers in Westminster Abbey and along the route for The Queen’s coronation. She’s also understood to have been one of the inventors of Coronation Chicken, a great deal of which will be consumed in June at street parties to mark the Diamond Jubilee, I imagine. It’s rather fitting that she should be so honoured this year, isn’t it?
*That’s £2.41 each. Tax-free, though.
**Or is there? According to The Sun last Thursday, certain patterns do emerge if you analyse the details of big wins across the nearly eighteen years that we’ve had the National Lottery. The paper’s resident statistical analyst has discovered that ball number 38 has dropped the most times (235), while number 20 is the ‘unluckiest’ one with a humble 164 appearances. Meanwhile the characteristics of the people who win can also be crunched down to their constituent parts too: it turns out that builders from Romford called John have the edge. So that’s just two to go for me then.
***English Heritage depend upon the public to nominate sites for receiving Blue Plaques – how to nominate a site.
Coronation chicken image by Shannon Rosa on Flickr. Some rights reserved.