Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Big Community Plant Out in Ahoghill

Alderman Stewart McDonald officially launched National Tree Week 2017 by planting the first tree of the season at Ahoghill New Park.
Ald McDonald said “I was delighted to plant the first tree at Ahoghill New Park. There was a great turn out on the day and participants planted 220 native trees, such as hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel, as well as building Bee-licious bee hotels and bird boxes and enjoying hedgerow food and drink.”
“The community is very much looking forward to the development of this exciting new space and are keen to be involved along the way. I hope this site will flourish and provide a valuable resource for the community and local wildlife for many years.”
James Perry, Ahoghill in Bloom said “What a great turnout from groups and organisations right across the community, from local schools, the Young Famers Club, Ahoghill Patchwork Group, footballers, school children and our own Ahoghill in Bloom volunteers. The trees planted will become a free food resource for everyone in the community to harvest and enjoy. They will also add to the biodiversity of the area. We are very much looking forward to the next ‘plant out’ - one of best events we have had in the village!”
National Tree Week is the UK’s largest celebration of trees and the start of the winter tree planting season. As part of Tree Week celebrations, there are a range of free activities across Mid and East Antrim including coppicing and countryside crafts workshops, hedgelaying and wreath making. Staff will also be out planting hundreds of trees with school children and community groups.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Reid, concluded “Tree Week marks the beginning of the tree planting season which runs right through to February. I encourage citizens to celebrate trees at one of our free events, or simply get outdoors and enjoy the tremendous trees we already have in the Parks & Open Spaces in Mid and East Antrim Borough.”

“Citizens can also consider planting your own tree. Anyone can make a difference to their view and to biodiversity by adding a tree. Planting a tree is a very positive thing to do and is great fun, even in the depths of winter. There are plenty of reasons to get planting – it’s great exercise, children love it, and you’ll be making a valuable contribution to our local wildlife. Every tree counts.”

Monday, 6 November 2017

Success at RHS Britain in Bloom awards

This year Mid and East Antrim had two entries in the finals of the RHS Britain in Bloom competition. Ballymena competed in the large town category and Cullybackey in the large village category. A delegation of Council and community representatives and attended the awards ceremony on Friday 27 October in Llandudno, North Wales.

The Mayor was delighted to accept a Silver Gilt award on behalf of Ballymena, along with PJ McAvoy from Ballymena BID, and accept a Silver Gilt award on behalf of Cullybackey along with Bertie McNeilly from the Cullybackey Community Partnership. Ballymena was also nominated for the RHS Special Award for Conservation and Wildlife - a great achievement.

The RHS judges were very encouraging and offered a great deal of positive feedback regarding both entries.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Mid and East Antrim is blooming

The winners and runners-up in the Mid and East Antrim in Bloom Community Competitions were celebrated at an awards ceremony in Raceview Mill, Broughshane, on Thursday 19 October.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Councillor Paul Reid, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, said: “Our Mid and East Antrim ‘In Bloom’ Community Competitions are an important part of our Britain in Bloom and Ulster in Bloom entries.
“Mid and East Antrim in Bloom is a beacon of community gardening good practice, it encourages people to get involved, builds community spirit and improves the environment we all live in. With initiatives across the Borough such as Tree Week and our ‘Friends of’ volunteer groups, opportunities are also created for health, wellbeing and learning.
“The ‘in Bloom’ competitions are a great way to celebrate the hard work put in by local people throughout the year to make our Borough a more beautiful and biodiverse place to live.
“I am pleased to say the Mid and East Antrim in Bloom Community Competitions have really caught the imagination of our citizens and we have once again had a fantastic response to the awards from all across the Borough.
“I was very impressed by the number of high-quality entries. The time and dedication of entrants is extraordinary and a credit to all involved. Everyone who took part should be very proud of their achievements. I would like to thank everyone, our residents, local businesses, schools and community groups who continue to support our ‘in Bloom’ campaign.”
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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Coast Care Heroes celebrated

Mid and East Antrim’s Local Heroes received special recognition from Live Here Love Here and Coca-Cola HBC at the 10th Anniversary of the Coca-Cola Coast Care Awards, held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The event, hosted by broadcaster Barra Best, praised and rewarded the efforts of volunteers who have gone the extra mile to clean up and look after our coastline and inland waterways, in a bid to preserve the natural beauty of these areas.
Ulidia Integrated College Eco Team in Carrickfergus jointly won the award for Brighter Futures.

Nicholas Davis from Larne Renovation Generation received an Honorary Mention in the Local Hero category. Larne Renovation Generation was also given an Honorary Mention in the Coca Cola Coast Care Group category and the Friends of Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen received an Honorary Mention in the Inland Waterway Group category. 

Well done all! 

Friday, 3 November 2017

Best Kept Success

Ahoghill has clinched the top prize in the 60th anniversary year of the Northern Ireland Best Kept City, Town and Village Awards.

 The village won the much-coveted ‘Best of the Best’ title at the awards ceremony, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport, in Belfast City Hall, with judges citing the evident enthusiasm of residents and traders working in tandem as a key factor in the success.   

Ahoghill won the ‘Large Village’ category for the second year in a row, but went a step further this year to claim a first ‘overall’ accolade thanks to impressive special features such as the Community Garden and site of the Old Creamery.
Cullybackey was also highly commended at the prestigious awards event, taking runner-up spot in the ‘Large Village’ category behind its neighbour.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Eden Playing Fields protected via Fields In Trust

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has safeguarded Eden playing fields, Carrickfergus, as a Queen Elizabeth II field.

Fields in Trust provide legal protection for playing fields, play space, recreation grounds, nature reserves and other open spaces. They currently protect over 2,500 public recreational spaces.
Unveiling the new plaque, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor Paul Reid, said “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of the Borough through the services it provides.
“Our Parks & Open Spaces service provide a multitude of opportunities to improve our environment, take part in recreational activities and learn from our history through educational events.”
“The Fields and Trust initiative has been fully embraced by Council as part of our commitment to protecting the playing field from future development. We want to celebrate the ongoing community use of these recreational sites and it is reassuring that we are permanently safeguarding Eden playing fields and other sites in the Borough through the Fields in Trust programme.”
Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said "We are delighted that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has shown how much it values Eden playing fields by protecting the site forever with Fields in Trust.
“Community green spaces, such as this, play a vital role in maintaining a high quality of life and contribute to the physical health and mental wellbeing of the people that use them."
There are currently five other Fields in Trust sites across Mid & East Antrim, Bentra Golf Course and Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood, Slaughterford Road, Inver Gardens Memorial Park, King George V Park and Sandy Bay Playing Fields in Larne.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

A blooming great result for Mid & East Antrim at Ulster in Bloom awards announcement

 The results of the 2017 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition were announced on September 21 officially recognising Northern Ireland’s top gardening talent. 

The annual horticultural competition encourages cities, towns and villages right across Northern Ireland to look their best, boosting civic pride through beautiful plant and floral displays. Now in its 39th year, all 11 local councils participated in the 2017 competition which attracted 160 entries.

Speaking after the results announcement Deputy Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Cllr Cheryl Johnston, said she is delighted that Mid and East Antrim has once again bloomed scooping twelve awards in total, and winning in four categories.

Cllr Johnston said “Whitehead won the Community Rail Halt Award, with Greenisland coming third in this category. Carrickfergus Station came joint second in the Best Station Award category, sharing second place with Derry-Londonderry.”

“Glenarm and Gracehill came joint third in the Village Category, Cullybackey placed third in the Large Village category, and Ahoghill came second in the Small Town category. Larne placed second in the Town category, and our Borough did particularly well in the Large Town Award category with Carrickfergus coming a close second to Ballymena who won the category.”

“I am also pleased to announce that Carrickfergus won the Special Award for Biodiversity, in recognition of efforts to support biodiversity, and Ballymena won the Roses in Towns Award, thanks to the blooming rose displays around the town.”

Cllr Johnston concluded “I am absolutely thrilled with these results as Mid and East Antrim continues to bloom. Congratulations to all the community groups and volunteers who have put in so much effort and to our hard working Parks & Open Spaces staff who support the ‘Ulster in Bloom’ campaign 365 days a year.”

“I would also like to mention John Hood who was shortlisted for the Ulster Bus Community Champion Award for his longstanding contribution to Ahoghill in Bloom. Although John did not win on this occasion it is great to see volunteer’s efforts recognised and John is still a community champion to us!”

Speaking at the results announcement ceremony, Translink Chairman, Frank Hewitt, said “Congratulations to all the 2017 Translink Ulster in Bloom winners and runners-up! It’s been a highly competitive year with such an impressive standard of entries and we’ve seen a number of new locations reach the top spots. We’d like to thank all the local councils, businesses and community groups who invest their time, effort and expertise throughout the year to make their area a more attractive place to live and visit.
Alderman Freda Donnelly, Vice President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said: “As Vice President of NILGA, it is my pleasure to convey the Association’s admiration, encouragement and congratulations to everyone who has participated and contributed to the 2017 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition.  The competition celebrates the successes that can be achieved when councils, “Bloom” committees, residents and businesses, come together to take pride in the places where they live and work, creating a better environment for everyone to live in and share. 

“With the ongoing partnership support of the councils and our sponsors Translink, NILGA is committed to building on the culture of the competition and growing it into the future, harnessing the opportunities provided through council community planning powers.  People in local places can really influence local decisions, which is great for democracy and great for Northern Ireland.”

The Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition is co-ordinated by the Northern Ireland local Government Association (NILGA).