Since the first National Lottery draw took place in 1994 we have invested more than £1bn in people, projects and places in Northern Ireland.
This staggering amount has helped improve communities, change lives and fund a better future in the shape of almost 20,000 individual grants.
The National Lottery family in Northern Ireland is made up of the Arts Council, the Big Lottery Fund, Sport Northern Ireland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Camelot – the game operators.
National Lottery funding allows our elite sportsmen and women to take advantage of world-class training facilities at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland. But our winners are made in the community, which is why we have spent millions of pounds improving facilities at soccer grounds, GAA and rugby clubs to help build the superstars of the future.
In 2005 we approved an application from the Golfing Union of Ireland for a project entitled "Rory Mcllroy". We often wonder what became of him?
Similarly, the Lottery provides valuable assistance to artists, writers and musicians, contributing to the success of the acclaimed Barry Douglas's Camerata Ireland chamber orchestra and Sinead Morrissey's TS Eliot Prize-winning poetry collection, Parallax.
National Lottery funds have also been a key driver in restoring and reinvigorating some of our most famous landmarks, such as the Ulster Hall, Lyric Theatre and St George's Market. And we have added a few new ones, too – Derry's Millennium Forum, Omagh's Strule Arts Centre and developing the Connswater Community Greenway.
But our work does not end there. The National Lottery awards millions of pounds to community groups and projects that improve health, education and the environment throughout our society.
Change continues to be the motivator of progress and for the last 20 years, National Lottery players can be proud of their role in making a real difference in Northern Ireland.
- Paul Mullan is chair of the Northern Ireland National Lottery Forum and head of the Heritage Lottery Fund here