Seventeen years ago, I became Chair of the English National Stadium Trust (now the Wembley National Stadium Trust). The Trust made the original bid for National Lottery funding to build a new national stadium for football and rugby league and, having successfully made the case for Wembley to continue to be the site for that stadium, secured £120 million towards the rebuilding costs. One of the conditions of the Lottery grant were that eventually 1% of the turnover of the Stadium should be paid back to the public, who had bought their Lottery tickets to make that grant possible, in the form of grants to community organisations that would support a range of sports activities.
The money was only to start being made available five years after the new Stadium opened (which following a number of delays took place in the spring of 2007) and the first substantive funds were received at the end of 2012.
And this morning I chaired the meeting that decided which organisations should be the beneficiaries of the first £300,000 of grants. 37 organisations will benefit and will be receiving their cheques at a ceremony later this month at Wembley Stadium. In this initial grant round all of the organisations will be delivering community sports activities in the London Borough of Brent (for those who don’t know their geography Brent is the Borough in which the Stadium is situated). Later grant rounds will benefit the rest of London and the country as a whole.
It has been a long journey but it is difficult not to be excited about the range of organisations that have been successful.