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UK’s top skaters and riders drop in on Llanelli youngsters to celebrate special birthday

THE world’s and the UK’s finest skateboarders, BMX and Wheelchair Motocross stars dropped in on young people at a Carmarthenshire skatepark today to celebrate the £3 billion National Lottery players have raised to help young people in the UK to develop and thrive over the last 25 years.

Wales and Pembrokeshire’s own wheelchair sports superstar, Lily Rice; the Olympic BMX freestyler from Swansea, James Jones; Britain’s leading street skateboarder and 2020 Olympic hopeful, Alex Decunha; and YouTube influencer, Jake O’Neill (aka Jake100), visited hundreds of youngsters at Ramps indoor and outdoor skatepark in Llanelli (who had turned out to meet their idols) as part of the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday celebrations. More than £340,000 was awarded by the National Lottery in 2013 to develop and build Ramps Skatepark which now provides activities for over 15,000 young people a year.

The event today was arranged to celebrate the £3 billion National Lottery players have raised for projects which have specifically helped children and young people develop and thrive in the UK over the last 25 years. £2 million of National Lottery funding has specifically been awarded to support and develop over 47 BMX projects in local communities for young people in Wales to enjoy.

At 15 years old, Lily Rice from Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, is a World Champion wheelchair motocross (WCMX) star. She was propelled to fame two years ago when she became the first female in Europe to achieve a wheelchair backflip, and only the second girl in the world to pull off the stunt. Since then, Lily has emerged as one of the global leaders of WCMX – wheelchair motocross.

The National Lottery has inspired millions of people to get active in their local community, as well as supporting individuals and teams from grassroots to elite.

Lily Rice, who hails National Lottery-funded British Paralympic wheelchair athlete and London Marathon winner, David Weir, as her own inspiration, says: “By contributing towards building amazing facilities such as this indoor and outdoor skate park, National Lottery funding is helping thousands of young people of all abilities to reach their goals and discover new opportunities. I have trained and practiced at numerous National Lottery funded skate parks and there is no doubt that the funding has helped wheeled sports, enthusiasts, to become healthier and more active.

James Jones is a 25-year-old professional BMX rider from Swansea. James, who also celebrated his 25th Birthday this year, is one of six world-class athletes who make up the Freestyle BMX Team GB for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. James actually honed his skills and practiced his tricks at Ramps skate park in Llanelli when he was growing up and highlights the importance of young people having access to facilities like this on their doorstep.

James Jones said: “I practiced a lot here growing up and this facility has definitely played a big part in my development as a professional rider and a person. I probably wouldn’t be where I am now without the support I got here. It’s not just about learning to ride or skate, there’s a real family vibe here, a great social aspect and it’s well supported by the community. It’s important that the National Lottery funds parks such as this one so that young people can have a safe space to pursue their hobbies and meet friends.”

The Manager of Ramps Skatepark, Adam Williams, said: “We simply wouldn’t exist without National Lottery funding and thousands of young people in the community might otherwise have nowhere to go. It’s more than just a place to hang out. It’s often a place for people to pursue their passion, meet and share experiences or to become healthier and more active. It’s so important that there’s a place for young people to come and spend time and find something that makes them excited. We’re so grateful to National Lottery players for helping us.”

The National Lottery has invested over £158 million into 4,665 youth-related projects and activities in Wales over the past 25 years and the celebration today is part of The National Lottery’s 25th Birthday programme of events and activities taking place across the nation.

Representing the National Lottery family, Brian Davies, Director of Elite Performance at Sport Wales, says: “Everyone here today recognises the momentous and positive impact the National Lottery has had on the lives of young people in our communities. The National Lottery awards £30 million to good causes across the UK every week and, without that kind of support, facilities like this probably wouldn’t exist and they certainly wouldn’t be changing lives to the scale they are now. Today is an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the lives of so many young people and to say thank you to National Lottery players for their continued contribution, to amazing and inspiring projects such as this one.”

Since the National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, numerous projects which support young people across Wales have been funded, including:

● £312,937 to Llanharan Community Development Project in Rhondda Cynon Taff in 1996 to improve the youth centre and increase opportunities for young people;

● £157,536.00 to South Riverside Community Development Centre in Cardiff in 2006 which supports young people offering after school clubs and youth clubs;

● £56,420 for Clwyd Special Riding School in Llanfynydd, near Wrexham in 2008 for a project which uses the healing power of horses to develop the life skills and health of young people with special needs; and

● £10,000 for Vic Music Recording Studios in Wrexham in 2018 to run music sessions with vulnerable, disadvantaged and disengaged young people to help improve skills and self-esteem.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

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