The general public have voted the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage as the Wales National Lottery Project of the Year, seeing off competition from 1,500 other organisations.
Located in the former mining town of Abercynon, the project aims to assist people in the local area with strengthening their employability skills through gardening and conservation whilst also benefiting their mental wellbeing.
“We wanted to create an area that was wildlife friendly, that increased biodiversity for pollinators, but that also helps people to improve their own well being through creating it,” said Janis Werrett, Founder and Director of Cynon Valley Organic Adventures.
“Through term time we will usually help disengaged youths, the type of children that don’t fit in at school. They’ll come to us to improve their well being and to do some accredited learning. They come down here as a volunteer instead of coming to school.”
“I’d just like to say a big thank you to the National Lottery and the National Lottery players for helping us make all of this possible,” Werrett concluded.
The Fourth National Lottery licence competition is currently underway, with incumbent operator Camelot fending off competition from Sisal, Allwyn and Northern & Shell Group for the ten-year contract.
Good causes, such as the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage, have taken a prominent role in the proceedings, with some commentators critical of Camelot’s funding towards such initiatives.
Last week, a DCMS Select Committee heard the viewpoints of Adam Peaty MBE, 3x Olympic Gold swimmer, champion Paralympic rower Lauren Rowles and swimmer Ellie Robinson, regarding the Lottery’s funding of sports causes.
Speaking at the hearing, Labour MP Kevin Brennan observed that “returns for good causes in 2017 were only 2% higher in 2017 than they had been in 2009, whereas in the same period Camelot’s profits were 122% higher?”.
As the Panel’s highest-profile member, Peaty responded: “I read about this a few days ago, it’s hard because it’s gambling. Are we funded to make them look good?
“I think if we’re doing that then there should be more funding. If your profits are going up by 120% and good causes is only going up by 2%, then it doesn’t take anyone with two brain cells to go ‘hold on a minute, what’s going on here?’ Camelot or whoever gets the next award… there needs to be more back to society.”