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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Lottery cash for island sports
The children on Rathlin will finally have somewhere to play
The children on Rathlin will finally have somewhere to play
The four children who attend a school on a County Antrim island are set to get a long-awaited playground as a result of lottery money.

St Mary's Primary School on Rathlin Island has been given a grant of 48,427 to develop a multi-use games area for the children.

There are currently no sporting facilities at the school or on the island and this project will provide a surface for structured PE classes and extra-curricular sports.

Some of the cash from the Big Lottery Fund will also be used to create a sports pitch for the islanders to use.

Principal Brian McCaughan said the lottery grant would transform sports facilities on the island.

"The grant opens up so many possibilities not just for the pupils but for all the islanders. It will provide a safe play area for the pupils and allow us to provide out of school activities," he said.

"It will also allow the whole island community to use the sports pitch for other activities. We have a men's football club and a keep fit group who will be able to use it as well as the local youth club.

"This grant is giving us a wonderful opportunity to bring the islanders together to use a state-of-the-art facility. It can be difficult for children from a small island to make the transition to a school on the mainland, particularly when they have not had much experience of taking part in sports.

Pupils  Ruari, 11, Connor,10  and Eoin,5, with their teacher Brian McCaughan
Three of the pupils and teacher Brian McCaughan
"Now they will have the same skills as children from schools on the mainland by being able to take part in a wide variety of sports."

In all, 10 projects are benefiting from the announcement on Friday by the largest of the lottery distributors.

The grants totalling 483,884 will mean that hundreds of youngsters and the wider community will benefit from new and improved sports facilities.

Schools and communities in Belfast, Armagh, Coleraine, Strabane, Newry and Portadown will also receive new sports facilities, changing rooms and outdoor play areas.

The grants have been awarded under the Big Lottery Fund's New Opportunities for PE and sport programme.

This 33.75m programme aims to revamp existing facilities, build new outdoor sports facilities for pupils and encourage young people to stay involved in physical education.

Walter Rader, the fund's Northern Ireland director said all the grants had an important part to play in driving up participation in sports and activity, helping achieve fitter communities across Northern Ireland.

"This funding will help to create quality sporting facilities in which young people and the local community can take great pride and responsibility.

"Today's awards will give more young people in Northern Ireland the chance to take part in sporting activities while developing their natural talents and abilities."


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