National Lottery boost helped Wirksworth cinema survive coronavirus pandemic

A Wirksworth cinema is among thousands of good causes throughout the UK to share in more than £1 billion awarded by the National Lottery during the last year to support people and projects cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 10:53 am

The Northern Light Cinema in Wirksworth, owned by Paul Carr and wife Esther since 2013, is a small, independent cinema which received a National Lottery grant of £12,500 from the British Film Institute (BFI) to provide critical relief in the early months of the pandemic.

The cinema was later able to benefit from further support from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, also administered by the BFI.

The cinema’s revenue streams were decimated when lockdown first struck but thanks to the funding, Paul and his team were able to take the time to work on preparing the cinema for reopening, including enhancing their facilities.

The Northern Light Cinema in Wirksworth

They’ve added a pre-ordering service to their offering, installed screens between cinema booths and laid the foundations for a more prosperous future when normality eventually returns.

Paul, 53, who lives above the cinema with Esther, said: “The financial support has been fantastic.

“We’re really, really grateful – and it’s the emotional aspect from the staff as well, to know they have been supported and that the cinema is being supported.

“They know that when they come back to work, their jobs are secure. It’s a huge worry for full-time staff – but being able to show them the funding is there to protect us is huge emotional support for all our staff and community.

“For the community to know that this venue is safeguarded by the BFI for the wider community is the biggest thing.

“The funding means we’ve got more confidence that when we can reopen, people will walk through the door and say ‘wow’.

“The cinema’s been transformed into so much nicer than it was before. When we are able to launch, I’m sure there’ll be a huge buzz and excitement around our local community.”

The Northern Light Cinema is one of thousands of projects nationwide to have benefited from the £30 million raised by National Lottery players every week.

The £1.2 billion awarded by the National Lottery in the last year has gone towards thousands of initiatives and programmes designed to tackle loneliness and isolation, provide support for the elderly and vulnerable young people, and those promoting physical and mental health in the community.

The Northern Light Cinema has a capacity of just 52 people and prides itself on its intimacy and unique community feel.

Thanks to National Lottery players, Paul has been able to revolutionise the Wirksworth venue as it gears up to reopen later this year and he believes that work like this is part of the joy of buying a ticket.

He said: “It’s the hidden story behind every National Lottery ticket – all that good work.

“It’s not just the venue – it’s small towns and high streets. When you’re buying a ticket, you know that you’re going to protect those independent venues and high street – that’s really crucial and that’s worth buying a ticket for.”

To find out more about how The National Lottery supports good causes throughout the UK, visit