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> > > Sue Austin’s Underwater Wheelchair Team Needs Your Vote!

‘Creating the Spectacle!’ is through to the finals of this year’s National Lottery Awards and needs your vote to win.

Woman scuba diving in wheelchair leaning back with long hair flowing out.

The Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects, and they recognise and celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded projects make to communities across the UK. 

The National Lottery Awards have seven categories - each reflecting an area of Lottery funding: Sport; Heritage; Arts; Environment; Health; Education; and ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ is one of only seven projects to make it through to the finals in the Best Arts Project category.
Funded as part of the Cultural Olympiad 2012, ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ was a series of performances and videos by artist Sue Austin featuring the world’s first Underwater Wheelchair. The idea was to capture the self-propelled chair as it flew through the water and so give a tangible, dramatic sense of the joy and freedom this brings, thereby challenging people’s preconceptions about disability.  The Lottery funded the equipment, artists, technicians, dive specialists, venue hire and film production. Events included a live Arts event at Fleet Lagoon in which Sue travelled in her adapted chair across the mouth of the waterway, two pool performances at Osprey Leisure, Portland, with a poolside and underwater audience. The video ‘Finding Freedom’ and further filmed performances of the Underwater Wheelchair, including an immersive 360º format, were shown nationally and online, reaching over 10 million people. Over 300 local volunteers gained new skills and transformed their ideas about disability, while also enhancing community spirit. 

The winning project in each category will receive national recognition on a star-studded BBC One TV show in early September and, in addition to the Lottery funding they have already received, will receive a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

Artist Susan Austin of Freewheeling says: “We're delighted to have reached the finals of The National Lottery Awards. ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ was a series of performances and videos my team and I produced during the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, featuring the world’s first underwater wheelchair, and the work lives on now. Lottery money helped us organise events and performances in Dorset.  It’s easy to vote, so we're hoping people support us, as it would be a fantastic reward for our hundreds of volunteers to receive national recognition for their hard work.”

Voting for the finals is now open and ends at midnight on July 23rd. To register your vote for ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ call 0844 836 9673 or log on to Follow the campaign on Twitter: hashtag #NLAwards.  

(Calls cost no more than 5p from a BT landline. Calls from other networks may vary, calls from mobiles could cost considerably more. Callers are advised to check with their telephone network provider to be certain of the cost. No profit will be made from the cost of the phone vote by The National Lottery)