MILLIONS of us play the lottery every week — but few of us realise the impact it has on so many people across Bolton.

Figures released by The National Lottery reveal that more than £3 million worth of lottery funding was invested in Bolton last year.

A total of 94 grants were awarded across the borough to local arts, sports, heritage and community groups.

These grants were awarded by a number of distributing bodies, who allocate sums of money to good causes.

The Octagon received the most funding, with a £384,779 grant awarded by Arts Council England in March.

The theatre’s cafe, bar and auditorium were given a makeover last year, while the lighting grid was replaced.

Chief executive Roddy Gauld said: “We were delighted to receive a lottery grant for the Octagon’s refurbishment and very proud that it was the largest in the town.

“A recent report found that National Lottery funding for arts organisations was hugely biased towards London, with the population there receiving over four times the level of Arts Council grants.

“So it’s a particular achievement for us to have been able to secure this investment in Bolton and I believe an excellent reflection on our national reputation.”

The second highest Lottery grant in the borough went to Bolton Community Leisure Trust, which received a £278,000 grant from Sport England in June.

The trust put the money towards the £750,000 refurbishment of Farnworth Leisure Centre, in Brackley Street, which re-opened in November.

The centre now has a refurbished fitness suite containing £125,000-worth of new equipment, a swimming pool with LED lights and new changing facilities.

Dave Singleton, chairman of Bolton Community Leisure Trust, said: “The impact it has had has been above and beyond our expectations.

“We are encouraged by the number of people using our facilities and hope to attract many more customers in 2014.”

Another welcome recipient was Asian Elders Resource Centre, which received a £272,655 grant from the Big Lottery Fund in January.

The centre, in Northfield Street, specialises in the care of elderly Asian people with physical and mental disabilities. The grant was spent on the centre’s day care programme, the organising of community events and recruiting two new members of staff.

Centre manager Shabeen Rehman said: “We were really happy to have been awarded this grant. It’s so uplifting, considering the economic hardship we’ve had. The money has provided a new lease of life for everybody around us.”

The fourth highest lottery grant in Bolton last year was awarded to Community Care Day Options, which received a £264,979 grant from the Big Lottery Fund in March.

The charity runs a series of classes in Bolton to improve the motivation and self-esteem of unemployed adults with a physical or learning disability or health-related issues.

It will use the grant to fund 80 per cent of its training centre’s running costs, such as staff time, rent, broadband and travel expenses.

Liz Fisher, manager of the charity’s training centre, said: “The National Lottery have been very good to us. It’s extremely important that we continue to help our clients, who may otherwise not be given the support they need.

“Hopefully, as a result of this grant, we can support even more people and inspire even more success stories.”

The charity Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers received the fifth highest grant in Bolton last year, when it was given £256,771 by the Big Lottery Fund in March.

John Barrowman, who presented last year’s National Lottery Awards show, said: “Everyone in Bolton who plays the National Lottery should be proud of the difference their money is making in the local community.

“If you know of a Lottery-funded organisation that deserves to be nominated, we want to hear from you.”