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South Armagh wellness centre An Tobar shortlisted for National Lottery Project of the Year 2022

A County Armagh community wellness centre and social farm is appealing for public support in order to be crowned National Lottery Project of the Year 2022.

An Tobar, in Silverbridge, has been shortlisted from 1,300 nominations and has now reached the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards, which celebrate the inspirational people and projects which do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. 

There are 17 shortlisted finalists from across the UK, all of which will compete in a four-week public vote from September 7 to October 7 to be named the National Lottery Project of the Year. Winners will receive a £5,000 cash prize for their project and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.

An Tobar aims to connect people with nature to improve their health. National Lottery funding help them allow people to enjoy their woodland, learn new skills and gain health benefits from outdoor activity and nature connection.

It was formed by sisters Margaret Finnegan and Kathleen Finnegan- Agnew in April 2018 and is based on their farm, a 40-acre site that has been in their mother’s family for at least 300 years.

Margaret Finnegan said: “Our social farming programme along with ecotherapy and educational programmes has worked with local schools to provide gardening opportunities to children.   In 2019 we planted more than 13,000 native trees to create Brian’s Wood, named after two of our uncles of the same name who died in infancy.

“Last year we enhanced access to the woodland, especially for young people with additional learning needs, carers and families from lower socio-economic backgrounds, by improving nature trails, planting trees and installing new seating, preserving this heritage for future generations. In addition, we carried out 60 workshops covering a range of topics, from forest bathing to geology to community and cultural heritage with the help of funding from The National Lottery.

“It means so much to our whole team to have been nominated for a National Lottery Award and it would be a great honour to be named National Lottery Project of the Year 2022.”

Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, added: ““We are delighted to have received these outstanding nominations highlighting the excellent work that National Lottery-funded projects are doing in their local areas. In these challenging times, it is heartening to see so many people and projects dedicating their time and energy into giving something back to their communities. 

“It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that brilliant projects like An Tobar are able to do their incredible work and with the support of the public they could be named National Lottery Project of the Year 2022.”

The public can vote for the Project of the Year 2022 here.

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