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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 16 July 2007

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Liverpool project in the running to win a National Lottery Award

LITHERLAND Sports Park has been selected to battle it out with a host of other Lottery funded projects to win a National Lottery Award, a £2000 prize and the chance to feature on national TV. 

The Park is 1 of 10 projects nominated in the Best Sports Project category of the Awards and people from Liverpool are being urged to show their support by voting for it.  Now entering their 4th successful year, the Awards aim to recognise the difference that Lottery-funded projects of all sizes make to local communities and celebrate the achievements of the people behind them.

Litherland Sports Park (LSP) began as a project to improve school sports facilities and a home for an athletics track. What was once a disused wasteland and a hub of anti-social behaviour has been transformed in to a multi-million pound sports and health complex, with a massive positive impact on the local community.  The project team used Lottery funding to improve their sports facilities, leading to a unique and complex cocktail of investment, which has brought together 10 different funding streams and partners.  LSP is one of the 1st and most innovative schemes in the country, housing cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation NHS services, which were relocated from Aintree Hospital. It is home to more than 25 sports clubs and a sports venue for over 30 schools, as well as a real driving force for economic and social regeneration in the area.

Alistair Robertson, spokesperson for the Sports Park, says:- "Litherland Sports Park is a great example of what Lottery funding can do, and we are thrilled to have reached this far in the National Lottery Awards. We are really hoping the public support us and help us to win an Award."

Public voting started on the 9 July and ends on the 3 of August. The 3 projects with the highest number of votes will go through to the final. Winning projects will feature on a prime time show on BBC1, and will win £2000 to be spent on their project.

To register your vote for the Litherland Sports Park call 0845 386 8130 or log on to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards. Voting lines are open now and close at midday on Friday 3 August.

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, more than £20 billion has been raised and over 250,000 grants given out across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

The National Lottery Awards recognise the hard work and dedication of people who use Lottery funding to make a difference to communities across the UK.

The Most Talked To Man In The Country Is…

WHO would you imagine is the most in-demand man in Britain? England football captain John Terry? School dinner hero Jamie Oliver? Prime Minister Gordon Brown? They don’t come close.  The answer is theatre actor Jeremy Hancock. As the voice of automated rail enquiry service TrainTracker, Jeremy gives advice to over 16,000 people per day on taking the train. 

“In the last 6 months the number of people using TrainTracker has more than doubled, and we have just received our 10 millionth caller. We believe that Jeremy must be the most talked to man in the country.” says National Rail Enquiries Service (NRE) chief executive Chris Scoggins.

Close to 450,000 people per month now call TrainTracker which uses speech recognition technology to understand the journey requests made by callers and give details of departures, arrivals and where to change trains. Links to all the Train Company control centres means the information people receive takes into account whether trains are running on time.

“We have developed the technology so that TrainTracker can tell you exactly how to make any journey on the national rail network, whereas the previous version gave information on direct journeys only.  Importantly, it does so in a way that makes it feel like you are talking to a human being rather than being interrogated by a machine. Effectively TrainTracker has had a personality transplant.” says Chris Scoggins.

Chris believes the more human service as much as the increase in information it can provide has produced the huge jump in TrainTracker’s use.  As part of the programme to redevelop TrainTracker a large market research project was carried out to find out how people actually ask for journey times, and what information they will want. This has been taken into account in the language TrainTracker uses when asking people questions and giving them answers – for example it asks approximately when they would like to travel as most journeys are not set in stone, and it automatically gives details of more than one train as people want options of when to travel.

Another advance has come from painstaking work to smooth the way TrainTracker’s recorded information is linked together into answers so that its responses avoid the jerky style associated with so many speech recognition services.

“There have been articles in the press for years and years claiming that speech recognition is coming of age, but it has never really happened.   I believe the upgrades to TrainTracker mean it finally has and this system should be seen as the proof of what can be achieved.” Chris Scoggins

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