A star-studded audience celebrated the brilliant causes supported by the National Lottery Fund at the annual National Lottery Awards in London on Friday night.
Medal winning Olympians joined TV celebrities in recognising the achievements of charities and individuals across Britain, whose work makes such a difference to so many people’s lives.
In particular, woman&home was delighted to sponsor the health award, which was voted for by our readers.
The very worthy winners were North West Blood Bikes, a team of volunteer bikers from Lancashire and the Lakes who give up their spare time to ferry blood, breast milk, operating theatre equipment – anything that fits on a motorbike – to hospitals.
Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding, a biker himself, presented the award. He said: “These volunteers think nothing of giving up their free time to transport urgently needed medical supplies, and in doing so, save lives.”
TV presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing finalist Katie Derham, dazzling in sequins, gave an award to the London Taxi Benevolent Association for Ward Disabled, to recognise their work helping war veterans remain mobile and active.
Meanwhile one of TV’s most popular chefs, Ainsley Harriott, presented the Heritage Award to Lion Salt Works in Cheshire, an historic salt works which was renovated thanks to the Lottery Heritage Fund and has become a vital community hub.
Actor Ralf Little also presented awards and John Barrowman hosted the glittering night.
Other stars who attended included Countryfile presenter and Strictly Come Dancing favourite Anita Rani. She presented the environmental award to Grow Wild, a project supported by Kew Gardens which has turned a derelict works in Scotland into a wild flower haven.
On the red carpet she said she would definitely be watching the Strictly this year. But when asked if she’d be missing all the sequins, she replied “Definitely not!”
Several of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing contestants, and their professional partners, were there to show their support. The new series of Strictly officially starts in two weeks time. Sports presenter Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton, his dance partner for the series, even gave us a sneak peak of their dancing, which you can see on our instagram page. Joanne Clifton thinks that Ore will go far in the competition. “He is a very good dancer,” she said, warning that there are a lot of strong contestants this year so they will have to train hard to beat them. Joanne added: “I just want to beat my brother, Kevin, this year. That is the aim and I think we could do it.”
Meanwhile Strictly’s newest recruits, professional dancers Neil Jones and Katya Jones, revealed how they were feeling about the show. “It is really exciting. We can’t wait for it to start”. They too thought competition was going to be tough, with Daisy Lowe, Laura Whitmore and Ore all showing potential. Asked whether there were any dark horses in the competition Katya said “I think Ed Balls is going to come on and surprise people. He is better than everyone thinks”. Though with Katya partnering Ed for the series, we think she could be slightly biased.
Former Strictly dance professional Vincent Simone was among the celebrities at the awards. He told woman&home he was delighted to be supporting such worthy projects.
Actress Lucy Benjamin, wearing a nude and black lace strapless gown for the occasion, was also honoured to show her support for the night’s good causes. Lucy has campaigned for Solace Women’s Aid’s Silver Project, which supports women in London aged 55 years and over affected by domestic and sexual violence.
Many of Rio’s successful Olympians turned out to support the Awards and have the team’s incredible achievements recognised. Many proudly wore their medals. They included canoe slalom gold medallist Joe Clarke, gold medal winning cyclists Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell and Olympic champion show jumper Nick Skelton. The National Lottery Fund puts a lot of money into supporting Britain’s sportsmen and women, enabling them to train in the best possible conditions.
* National Lottery Stars 2016 is on BBC1 tonight at 10.45pm.