25 years of the National Lottery

As the National Lottery celebrates its 25th birthday, we look at what their support has enabled us to achieve in the last year.

Just 25 years ago today, the first National Lottery draw took place. Since then, more than £39 billion from ticket sales has gone towards funding good causes, including many projects and initiatives here at the Wildlife Trust. Support from the National Lottery has been central to our work for many years, enabling us to build a brighter future for people and nature across our two counties.

At this very moment, grants from the Heritage Fund and Community Fund are powering projects that bring great benefit to local communities and wildlife. As the National Lottery celebrates this momentous milestone, we look at some of the things we've been able to achieve in the past year thanks to their support.

Volunteers pulling Himalayan balsam along Avon Water in July 2019

Volunteers pulling Himalayan balsam along Avon Water in July 2019

New Forest Non-Native Plants Project (Our Past, Our Future)

Catherine Chatters

"This project has benefited greatly from National Lottery Heritage Fund support. Jo Gore and I, the New Forest Non-Native Plants Officers, are delighted that with this funding we have been able to accomplish a great deal in the past year.

We have led 86 volunteer work parties this summer to pull up Himalayan balsam along the streams and rivers. We have also hosted three awareness-raising sessions during 2019; these have helped a wide range of people including volunteers and Network Rail staff recognise invasive non-native plants and find out how to control them.

The Lottery funding has also enabled professional contractors to control giant hogweed on more than 30 properties along the Avon Water, to tackle the American skunk cabbage which threatens to out-compete our native wildflowers in a woodland along the Fleet Water, and to control the Japanese knotweed which has invaded the banks of the Cadnam River."

Secrets of the Solent

Tim Ferrero

"We have just completed the first year of this project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and it has been a busy one! Our greatest achievement so far has been recruiting and training more than 100 Marine Champions and Marine Ambassadors - passionate volunteers who are now engaging with people all around the Solent.

With the aid of these volunteers we have showcased our work at many public events, given talks to local groups and sailing clubs, undertaken wildlife safaris on ferry crossings, and reached out to local communities across the region. Their dedication and enthusiasm is the backbone of the project, and we couldn't do it without them.

Between March and September we ran 12 intertidal surveys around the Hampshire and Isle of Wight coasts, building our knowledge and monitoring populations of vulnerable species. We also installed interpretation and artwork at Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth and launched our Wilder Solent campaign to help people make a difference in their daily lives."

Marine Champions on Wightlink Ferry © Emily Stroud

Marine Champions running a ferry safari © Emily Stroud

Watercress and Winterbournes

Kathryn Boler

"The last year has been very exciting for this Landscape Partnership Scheme, which seeks to enhance and celebrate seven of our chalk streams. It was the second half of our Development Phase, in which we worked closely with our 14 partners and local communities.

The generosity of the National Lottery Heritage Fund has allowed us to forge strong relationships with local people and truly understand their priorities. It has also allowed us to further our knowledge of the pressures on these rare and valuable chalk stream ecosystems.

We have recently submitted our application for full funding - if successful we will run an extended version of the scheme featuring projects on habitat improvement, species monitoring, education, heritage, and more."

Wetland Restoration and Woodland Apprentices (Down to the Coast)

Jamie Marsh

"In the last year we have achieved some incredible gains for wildlife and young people on the eastern Isle of Wight through these two projects. The Wetland Restoration project has resulted in new land being purchased and restored with habitat works, a viewing platform and interpretation. We have also undertaken restoration works across a range of sites and wetland habitats, improving connectivity within catchments. Public engagement has been high, with huge volunteer effort going into practical works and surveys.

The Woodland Apprentice project has been a real success. Currently, five of the eight apprentices have gone on to gain employment while the remaining three are completing their apprenticeships. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch the young people grow in confidence, gain new skills, and find employment in related fields. The combination of academic learning and practical experience has given the apprentices a good set of skills and qualifications, and a high level of employability.

In addition to the human benefits, the Woodland Apprentices project has created gains for wildlife as a range of sites and private unmanaged woodlands have receiving positive management. A whole range of species have benefited including two of the Island's favourites, the red squirrel and dormouse."

Woodland apprentices building a bridge

Woodland apprentices building a bridge

Wildbeach (Down to the Coast)

Kelly Wetherick

"Thanks to National Lottery players, we have given 134 school children from across 11 Isle of Wight schools the opportunity to visit the beach. They have encountered rock pool creatures such as crabs and anemones, as well as learning through play about tides and coastal ecosystems. Some of these young people had never seen the sea before, despite living on an island. Projects like this are invaluable as they enable our next generation to experience the natural world around them –thank you!"