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Written by on 29th September 2021

There are just a few days left to cast your vote to help an Abercynon based heritage and conservation project win the coveted ‘Project of the Year’ trophy at this year’s National Lottery Awards.

The annual National Lottery Awards celebrate the people and projects across the UK who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.

Since voting for The National Lottery Project of the Year category opened on 6 September, thousands of votes have been cast from across the UK for the 17 finalists to help decide this year’s winner.

But with the 4 October deadline for voting fast approaching, the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project is appealing for your support to help them get over the line.

The Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project is helping people from the former Welsh mining village of Abercynon in the Rhondda valley to improve their employability skills and wellbeing through gardening and by connecting them with nature.

Three years ago, the Cynon Valley Organic Adventures site, now home to the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project, was just a derelict wasteland. Today, thanks to the support of £20,000 in National Lottery funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the outstanding efforts of many volunteers, it has been transformed into a community garden with allotment spaces which grow food for their foodbank, a café, a summer school and even a green gym. They also provide outdoor activities and programmes for disengaged youths and work closely with autistic young people and anyone experiencing mental health issues.

The project has forged wide-ranging links with community groups, autistic support networks, job centres and schools, and accepts social prescription referrals from GP surgeries. The emphasis is on harnessing the benefits of nature to improve wellbeing and employability.

Janis Werrett, the Director of Cynon Valley Organic Adventures, who realised the potential of the space and started the project, says that it has not only transformed the space, but people’s lives too.

Janis says: “We are thrilled that our project has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Heritage category of the National Lottery Awards.

I’ve seen massive changes in children and young people being outdoors, to the point that they don’t recognise the person that they used to be. After spending years in school and being excluded from the mainstream because of their lack of academic skills, when they come here they realise that they do have skills. I see people growing and watch all those little changes in them that they might not see in themselves.

None of this would have been possible without the support of National Lottery funding and the help of our dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly to restore and protect this valuable resource for their community. To win this award would be a huge thank you to the dedication of everyone who made this project possible.

At the end of the four-week voting window, the finalist with the most votes will be crowned the National Lottery’s 2021 Project of the Year.

The winning project will receive a £3,000 cash prize, along with an iconic National Lottery trophy to commemorate the achievement.

Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, said: “The past 18 months have been tough for all of us, so it’s truly inspiring to see so many projects and volunteers still putting in the time to make a positive difference in their communities.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the country every week, making vital projects like these possible. 

“Don’t forget to make your voice heard by voting for your Project of the Year in the National Lottery Awards – with your help, the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project could be a winner.”

To cast your vote for the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project, please follow the link on the National Lottery Good Causes website here or simply share their hashtag #NLAGreenValley on twitter. Voting closes at 5pm on 4 October.