Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Mid & East Antrim Flower Show Flourishes

The third annual Flower Show and Summer Fair on Saturday 19 August in the Market Yard, Larne was a riot of colour and drew attendees from right across the Borough and further afield. Attendees enjoyed activities such a cooking demonstrations, flower arranging and bird box building at the Summer Fair with the main event, the Flower Show awards ceremony, being held at 3.30pm and with the awards presented by U105’s Carolyn Stewart and Mayor of Mid & East Antrim.



Speaking at the awards ceremony, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Cllr Paul Reid, said “Our Mid and East Antrim In Bloom campaign has continued this year and the Flower Show is a big component of this. Through Mid and East Antrim In Bloom we encourage everyone who lives in the Borough to think about their local environment and how flowers, plants and gardens can enhance it for people and wildlife.”

“Our Flower Show is the chance for local gardeners, bakers and floral artists to create a marvellous extravaganza of flowers, fruit and vegetables, and home baked delights.”
“I would especially like to thank our panel of judges, who have a wide range of experience and expertise amongst them and who thoroughly deliberated all the entrants today. Thank you to our staff who have worked hard to make the Flower Show and Summer Fair happen. It has been a wonderful colourful spectacle. And finally, thank you to all our entrants – the standard was remarkable.”

Amongst a host of winners on the day, Elizabeth Boyd won Best in Show for her succulent entry, with Most Points overall in Flower Show going to David McWilliam.



Best Cut Flower Exhibit went to Avril Graham for her large gladioli, Best Rose Exhibit went to Elaine McIlwaine, Most Points in Rose Exhibit was won by Ronnie Campbell. Best Dahlia Exhibit and Most Points in Dahlia Exhibit was won by David McWilliam.

Best Garden Variety went to Sandra Hawthorn for her hydrangea. Most Points in Cut Flowers went to David McWilliam.

Best Pot Plant and Most Points in Pot Plants was won by Elizabeth Boyd and Rita O’Lynn won the Best Cactus Exhibit.

Best Monster Vegetable went to Stephen McConnell for his monster cabbage and Jennifer Herron’s twisty carrot won Best Novelty Vegetable. Jennifer also won both Most Points in Vegetable Section and the Best Grow Your Own Selection.

Colleen Hamill won the Best Flower Arrangement award for her ‘Wild About Gardens’ display, and Colleen also won the most points in the Flower Arrangement section.

Samantha Braniff won Best Exhibit in Junior Section for her cupcakes and there was a four way tie for Most Points in the Junior Section with James Cowan, Ruby Fleck, Lucy Cowan and Ellie Cowan all collecting an award.

Emily Hanna won the Best Exhibit in Home Industry for her chocolate cake, with Most Points in Home Industry going to Ann Carson.

A full list of winners can be found at www.midandeastantrin.gov.uk/flowershow


Monday, 21 August 2017

Local Nature Reserve status for Carrickfergus woodland

Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen in Carrickfergus has been officially designated a Local Nature Reserve. 


Local Nature Reserves are places with wildlife or geological features that are of special interest locally. It is a protected area of land, designated by a local authority, to conserve its environmental and recreational value.
Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen sit side-by-side on the western edge of Carrickfergus.
Bashfordsland Wood is a ten year old woodland owned and managed by Council and Oakfield Glen is a mature woodland, owned and managed by The Woodland Trust.
Council has worked in partnership with the Trust since 2007 and a network of paths and access points have been created between the two areas.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim said, “The site is popular with local people as well as being home to a wide range of wildlife including birds and bats. It makes an important contribution not just to nature but to local health and wellbeing initiatives.
“A number of entrances make it very accessible and it’s popular with walkers, naturalist and school groups. The site demonstrates Council’s commitment to conserving and enhancing biodiversity throughout the Borough and to protecting urban green space for the community.”
Rosie Irwin from the Woodland Trust paid a special tribute to the ‘Friends of Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen’, “The group has been meeting monthly for almost two years now and they do a great job at helping out with the site. They carry out important tasks such as river cleans, invasive species removal and tree maintenance.
“We’re delighted to have been granted this LNR status and to continue working in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to protect our woodlands. We want people to fall in love with getting outdoors and help us to restore our ancient woodlands for the benefit of wildlife and people.”
Dr Hilary Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside said, “Local Nature Reserves provide an opportunity to keep fit and healthy, encourage learning and also boost tourism. They are also a great way to encourage children to get outdoors and play.
“We’re excited to see partnerships develop, like this one in Mid and East Antrim, to help maintain our natural heritage and ensure our environment is protected for future generations to enjoy.”
The Local Nature Reserve is a result of hard work from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, The Woodland Trust, Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Allen & Mellon Environmental.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Green Flag success in Mid & East Antrim

Parks throughout Mid and East Antrim have been awarded prestigious Green Flag Awards for cleanliness, safety and community involvement.



The Green Flag Award is an internationally recognised certification for environmental quality management for parks and open, green spaces.
The winners included Carnfunnock Country Park, The People’s Park, Eden Allotment Gardens, Ecos Nature Park, Dixon Park, Diamond Jubilee Wood, Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen, Carrickfergus Mill Ponds, Shaftesbury Park and Marine Gardens.
A delegation from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council travelled to Bangor Castle to accept the awards.
Among them was Parks Supervisor Jackie Waide, who won the Green Flag Northern Ireland Employee of the Year award.
Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Cheryl Johnston, said: “We are so proud to be flying the Green Flag across so many of our Borough’s parks and open spaces.
“This is testament to the fantastic work of our parks team in ensuring our green spaces are among the best in Northern Ireland.
“As a Council, we are committed to protecting, enhancing and promoting Mid and East Antrim’s parks and green spaces as superb places to visit, exercise and enjoy events.
“I am also thrilled that Jackie Waide, Parks Supervisor, was presented with the ‘Employee of the Year’ award.
“This award was open to all staff across the whole of Northern Ireland so it is a great honour to be recognised at this level.  It is wonderful to see hard working staff recognised for their good work and effort all year round.
“Holding a Green Flag Award brings with it a vast amount of prestige.
“It is also an excellent example of civic achievement and provides communities with a great sense of civic pride.
“Winning a Green Flag Award visibly demonstrates to the local community and Councillors that a site is being well managed for the benefit of the local community and local wildlife.
“The more Green Flag Awards a local authority has, the more it demonstrates best value for the Council and the local community.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in this process, including the Green Flag Award Scheme, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and, of course, our hardworking staff, who maintain and manage our Parks and Open Spaces to such a high standard all year round.
“Finally, a big thank you to the local communities who enjoy our sites, get involved in our events and activities, and treat the sites with the respect they deserve.”
For the 2017/18 season, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful saw a continued increase in public parks, gardens, country parks, cemeteries and green spaces meeting the demanding standards.
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful also celebrates The Green Flag Community Award and The Green Heritage Award for sites which conserve, enhance and help people enjoy the heritage value of the site.
The Green Flag Awards are judged annually by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, ranging from horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.
Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme.
“Parks matter to our society; this year more than 37 million people throughout the UK will visit a park, this is five million more than voted in June’s General Election.
“The Green Flag Award is a sign of a well-managed, clean and safe park and with many people increasingly relying on their local park as a place to exercise, relax and have fun, quality green space has never been more important.
“Research shows that people will only visit a park if they perceive it to be clean and safe; the Green Flag Award is an easy way for the public to see at a glance that their park meets the highest standards.
“All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the hundreds of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Cullybackey charms Britain in Bloom judges

Cullybackey welcomed RHS Britain in Bloom judges Rae Beckwith and James Cordingley on Saturday 12 August. The judges viewed wildflower meadows, heritage features, sponsored flower beds, Shellinghill Park, the beautiful Maine River, Millennium Riverside Walk and much more before enjoying a traditional lunch in the historical setting of Arthur Cottage.
Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Cllr Paul Reid is delighted that Cullybackey has made it so far in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom competition, “The Borough has established an award winning reputation thanks to our Mid and East Antrim ‘In Bloom’ campaign.



“It encourages everyone here to think about their local environment and how flowers, plants and gardens can enhance it for people and wildlife. Residents not only brighten our Borough but often enable our towns and villages to go on to achieve success in awards like Translink’s Ulster in Bloom and RHS Britain in Bloom.

“I would like to thank the Cullybackey Community Partnership, volunteers, local businesses and children who have given up so much of their time to plant wonderful floral and wildflower displays, keeping the village clean and tidy and brightening up forgotten corners.”

“I would also like to thank our staff who are wholeheartedly committed to ensuring our Borough is the best it can be for the local community, and for local wildlife, all year round. The village looks absolutely wonderful and it is a real credit to all involved.”

Ruth Orr, Chairperson of the Cullybackey Community Partnership said “I would like to thank all those who have made this day possible, our hard-working committee,  the volunteers, our generous sponsors and businesses, the schools and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

“It’s all about team work, together everyone achieves more. We are very proud to host the judges and hope they have enjoyed the day with us and take away good memories of Cullybackey.”

Cullybackey was judged in the Large Village category and the results will be announced at the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Wales this October.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Ballymena in Bloom

The sun shone down as the people of Ballymena gave a special welcome to Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom judges Kim Parish and Nigel Bishop.

They were in the town earlier this week on the final stop of their journey around the United Kingdom to judge the Large Town category as part of the Britain in Bloom finals this year.
The judges were thrilled as they were taken around the town. Beginning at Tullyglass House Hotel they enjoyed the warmest of receptions from Gus McConville and the team.
The tour then took the judges to the home and gardens of Margaret Glynn where they learned about Margaret’s love of gardening and how she has transformed her gardens over the years.
After a quick stop in Memorial Park, the judges were whisked off to Ecos Nature Park where they were delighted to hear about the work of the ‘Friends of Ecos’ group and were overjoyed to get hands on with local ornithologists as they worked at the Constant Effort Site, making records of birdlife within the park.
After stopping off to meet some of this year’s participants at the Biodiversity Summer Scheme, the judges were taken to the town centre where they met with Gillian Matthews of Willow Beauty and heard about her success in the local In Bloom competitions, before learning about the public realm scheme and meeting with Alison Moore and Trevor Parker to hear about the fantastic work of Ballymena Business Improvement District, at Wellington Court.
Having taken in the magnificent floral art and horticultural displays around Church Street 3 car park, The Braid and North Road, the judges then enjoyed a splendid afternoon tea with gathered guests at People’s Park.
Speaking at the judges’ reception, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Paul Reid, said: “The town has undergone a wonderful transformation in recent months with so much of Ballymena awash with colour thanks to hanging baskets, window boxes, railing planters and traditional bedding plants.
“However, what strikes me the most is the fact that so much of the planting and environmental improvements throughout the town are due to the efforts of local residents, businesses, churches, charity and community groups.
“It is down to partnerships working with the Council and is a credit to the people of Ballymena and I wish them every success in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition.”
Ballymena will be judged in the Large Town category, competing with the best of the best across the UK, and the results will be announced at the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Wales this October.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Forest School comes to Carrickfergus

Carrickfergus Central Primary School have begun their Forest School Programme in Shaftesbury Park. At the first session pupils found out about all the trees and wildlife in the park and made maps of the site from natural materials.


Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is committed to promoting our parks and open spaces as important educational and recreational resources and Forest Schools, delivered with Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA), is a great way to achieve this. The number of Forest Schools in Northern Ireland is increasing and we are proud to be at the forefront of this initiative. partner Council on the programme. 

Research has found that outdoor learning is invaluable for childrenThrough this initiative children will be able to increase their confidence, physical skills, social skills, motivation and concentration.  Above everything else, the Forest School Awards Scheme can help to connect children to their outdoor environment, stimulating curiosity and inspiring a love of the natural world that is likely to remain long after the programme. The benefits of Forest Schools are far reaching not only for the pupils and teachers directly involved but also for their families, school and local community.  Regular, ongoing and sustained use of Council parks and open spaces will help to develop a sense of ownership and, it is hoped, will lead to a reduction in anti-social behaviour.

Shaftesbury Park is a charming old Victorian park in Carrickfergus town centre with plenty of mature tree specimens and is connected to Carrickfergus Mill Ponds Nature Reserve which is home to a wide range of wildlife.



Monday, 15 May 2017

Blooming at the 2017 Garden Show Ireland

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has entered a Show Garden in the Garden Show Ireland for the first time this year. The garden celebrated the Councils 'in bloom' success and local heritage was celebrated throughout the garden, reflected the region’s local arts, crafts and storytelling through horticulture, biodiversity and community participation.

Teams from across the Council and the community helped make the elements of the garden come together.
The magnificent centrepiece was created by Gloonan House, in Ahoghill; Buick Memorial School, Cullybackey produced some wonderful decorated mosaic for the entrance to the garden and students from Castle Tower School in Ballymena decorated storytelling logs which were another key feature of the garden design.
Speaking at the recent launch of Mid and East Antrim in Bloom, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, said: “I am delighted that, for the first time, Council have entered a garden into the competition at the Garden Show Ireland in Antrim Castle Gardens.
“We are very proud of our horticultural achievements here in Mid and East Antrim and I am particularly delighted to hear that staff from across the Council and groups from across our borough have contributed to our garden design.”