ROYLE Family actor Ralf Little celebrated with St Helens Libraries’ Cultural Hubs team as it was crowned the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded arts programme.

The arts in libraries programme had beaten off stiff competition from more than 600 other projects within the Arts category to reach the The National Lottery Awards finals, where it received the most public votes.

Ralf Little presented Cultural Hubs with a National Lottery Awards trophy after the British public recognised the programme’s impressive achievements.

Ralf, known for his roles in The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, met the people behind the success of Cultural Hubs.

He said: “It is great to see libraries turned into vibrant places where people can try something new and develop their artistic talents.

"People of all ages love watching and taking part in arts activities across libraries in St Helens.

"National Lottery players should be proud that their money is making such a difference to people’s lives.”

The achievement and national recognition comes with a prize of £3,000 to boost Cultural Hubs’ diverse programme of arts based performances, plays, gigs, workshops, courses and exhibitions, enabling more emerging and established artists and performers to showcase their talent and creativity in St Helens.

The project has so far benefitted from £249,600 of National Lottery funding.

The Cultural Hubs team will also attend a glittering awards ceremony in London – to be broadcast on BBC One in September.

Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, with responsibility for libraries, arts and culture, said:

“We're extremely honoured and proud that our Cultural Hubs – Arts in Libraries programme has received so much support in the National Lottery Awards from the borough and beyond.

"Over the past couple of years, Lottery money distributed through Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts (Libraries) fund has really helped us to provide a varied programme of brilliant cultural activities across our library network.

“St Helens is a shining example of how the arts can be used to enliven library spaces. I’d like to thank everyone who helped us win by promoting and voting for our nomination, and the library and arts services for their dedication and passion."