Scotland-wide vote needed now for two Argyll island projects

John Barrowman

Two stand-out Argyll projects utterly worthy of support in the final stage of the prestigious 2013 National Lottery Awards are island based.

Both the heartbreakingly well known Calum’s Cabin, on the Isle of Bute offers completely free respite holidays to families with a stricken child; and the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust on Mull, with its inspirational  monitoring, reporting, conservation and educational work with these species, so very present in Argyll waters, have been shortlisted in this year’s awards final.

To what will be general relief in this part of the world, each is shortlisted in a different category so we don’t have to choose between them. We can all support them both [details below].

The National Lottery Awards, supported by Scots actor John Barrowman [above], reward and recognise the transformational work of National Lottery funded projects across all sections of society.

A massive £35m a week is raised by Lottery players for Good Causes, with groups and individuals putting awards to very good use in positively life-changing projects in their communities.

Over 900 good causes from across the UK were nominated in this year’s Awards. Out of this enormous field:

  • Calum’s Cabin has made it through to the final seven in the Best Health Project category.
  • Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) is the running for Best Education Project.

These two projects are the only Scottish projects to be shortlisted in each category and both are from Argyll – which means that, with our audience a wide ranging one, we can fairly ask for votes from all parts to support these hugely valuable causes, without prejudice to any local competitor. Please help.

In each of these two categories, the projects with the highest number of public votes will get £2,000 and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy .

On Calum’s Cabin

Calum Speirs from the Isle of Bute was only 12-years-old in 2007 when he died from an inoperable brain tumour in 2007. One of Calum’s last wishes was to help children with cancer make memories. He himself came up with the idea of Calum’s Cabin – a holiday retreat where families could make irreplaceable memories together and recharge their batteries for whatever might lie ahead of them.

In February 2009, Calum’s wish became a reality as his family opened Calum’s Cabin and it has been full virtually ever since – with the pressure of constant fund raising an inevitable part of the project.

Every week there are costs to be met in food, utilities and maintenance, to pay for the free holiday going on at the time – and the words once-in-a-lifetime have never had a more poignant context than they do here.

Calum’s mother, Caroline says: ‘When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is affected and their normal lives are uprooted.  Families visiting Calum’s Cabin are treated to a well deserved break in an idyllic part of Scotland where they can enjoy some stress-free time together.

‘We’re delighted that Calum’s Cabin has reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards.  We hope that the whole of Scotland will get behind us and vote.’

On the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

The spectacular wildlife of the Hebridean islands has recently been showcased in the arresting BBC documentary series, Hebrides: Islands on the edge, narrated by Ewan McGregor.

However, volunteers, youth groups and school pupils have been monitoring and gaining knowledge about the spectacular marine environment of the Hebrides, for the past decade, on expeditions aboard Tobermory-based HWDT’s boat, Silurian.

Purchased with help from the National Lottery and nicknamed the floating classroom, the Silurian is a dedicated research and education vessel. She’s fully equipped with a crow’s nest for observations, computer systems and hydrophones for detecting cetacean vocalisations and was used in her previous life during filming of the BBC’s The Blue Planet.

HWDT”s Education Officer Gemma Patterson says: ‘We’re proud to be the only Scottish project in the running for Best Education Project at the National Lottery Awards.  The funding we received from the National Lottery has allowed us to enthuse and educate people of all ages, instilling a sense of environmental responsibility and commitment to the protection of the marine environment in the Hebrides.

‘We hope all of Scotland will vote for us – we work for much of the country’s west coast.  It would be fantastic for everyone involved with Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust to be recognised with a national award.’

The context

John Barrowman says: ‘National Lottery funding helps transform communities and changes lives for the better. National Lottery players should be proud that their contribution to good causes makes such a positive difference to arts, sport, heritage, community and voluntary groups across the UK.

‘I would urge everyone to get behind the Scottish finalists and do their bit to ensure they get national recognition for their invaluable contribution to the community.’

There are seven nominees in seven categories in the Awards, reflecting the main areas of Lottery funding: arts, sport, heritage, health, environment, education and voluntary/charity.

Jackie O’Sullivan of National Lottery Good Causes says: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the number and standard of entries for the 2013 National Lottery Awards.  Each week National Lottery players raise over £35 million for good causes.  The impact of National Lottery funding at the heart of communities cannot be over-estimated.

‘The 49 good causes competing for public votes are just a snapshot of the life-changing influence of National Lottery funding.

‘Now for the hard part.

‘Every one of the nominees is a winner in their own right but it is up to the public to get behind their favourite good cause and get them to the point where they pick up the top prize’.

Vote for Calum’s Cabin and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

Calum’s Cabin and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust are appealing for public support to make it all the way to the star-studded awards ceremony hosted by John Barrowman in September. This will be broadcast on BBC One.

To cast your vote go to the awards page here of the National Lottery Good Causes website.

Voting started at 9am today – Wednesday 19th June. It ends at midnight on Wednesday 24th July.  You can vote, as linked above,  at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards; and you can follow voting on twitter #NLAwards.

Please do it now.

  • Calum’s Cabin is in the Best Health Project category.
  • Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is in the Best Education Project.
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