The Lottery - 26-08-16

Do you remember where you were on the evening of Saturday 19th November 1994? There's a fair chance that, like my family, you were sitting around the TV watching 6 balls fall out of a machine as 22 million of us hoped for a win from the first ever national lottery draw.

Be you a winner or a loser in the lottery game itself, that evening started a fund from which millions of us benefit through grants to our national heritage, charities, sports and special causes.

A couple of years later at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta Britain's Olympians reached a low point in our sporting history, winning just one gold from a total of 15 medals. It was time to find some money and later that year the National Lottery designated part of its revenue towards our Olympic effort.

8 years further on I was one of the lucky spectators at the 2004 Athens Olympics where we went on to win 28 medals and a new dawn had begun.

Our sporting governing bodies have since enjoyed an unbroken funding stream from the National Lottery allowing them to develop and follow a long term strategy for medal success focussing upon the right sports, finding the best talent and bringing in the finest expertise the world has to offer.

In 2008 our Olympians won 47 medals; in London 2012 the figure rose to 65; and after 16 days of action, jubilation, heart-break and drama of the highest quality, the 2016 Rio Olympics have elevated Britain to become a sporting super power with Team GB winning 67 medals and coming second in the final league table.

Next time you're tempted to buy a lottery ticket remember it creates much more than just one jackpot, so why buy one ticket when you can have two! Here's to success for our Paralympians this September and then onwards and upwards to Tokyo in 2020.

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Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.


MP Visits Newly Refurbished Maidstone Pub

Community pub The Stag in Maidstone has reopened following a joint investment of £70,000 by multi-operator Chris Dyer and the UK's leading pub company, Enterprise Inns, attracting a visit from the local MP Helen Grant. The venue, located just off the town's busy high street, has been closed since February 2016 while a full refurbishment took place to include an updated bar area, new toilets, a contemporary outdoor space and an upgraded kitchen.

Entrepreneur Chris, aged 34, also runs Enterprise sites Bar Chocolate in Maidstone and Command House in Chatham. He said: "Before I took over in March, the pub was in need of some attention and we've completely transformed it. We want The Stag to be somewhere people come regularly, enjoy great drinks and great food.

"Even though it's located in the city centre, we really want to provide a local feel where passers-by become regulars and see us as their go-to pub."

Historically, The Stag has been a wet-led pub, but since Chris took over in March he has introduced a lunch and evening menu, in addition to a full vegan menu, following customer feedback. The Stag has also become the only pub in Maidstone to serve real cask ales direct from barrels that sit behind the bar in view of the customers. It also offers a comprehensive range of craft beer that complement its new menu.

Chris said: "I was very excited to bring in the barrels for customers to see, this gives them a different kind of experience. It looks really good, and it's definitely a topic of conversation around the bar!"

Enterprise regional manager Richard Mernagh said: "Chris is a great guy, and has a fantastic business head on his shoulders. I have worked with him for six years during which time he's opened two other successful Enterprise sites in the area.

"We're very excited about the transformation, Chris has a great vision for the pub and we look forward to seeing it unfold. The successful renovation is testament to the strong relationship Enterprise has with Chris and I am sure it will continue to grow in the future."

MP Helen Grant visited the pub on Friday 15th July during an official celebration to mark its reopening. Helen said "I think people visiting Maidstone's town centre will really enjoy this superbly renovated historic pub. I think The Stag's new offering as a quality food and specialist ale house will attract a wider level of trade and garner a lot of regular local custom. The ambience is great, the food and ales are delicious and the staff are lovely. I wish the Stag every success".



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HELEN GRANT MP

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