Monday, 12 December 2011

Tree Planting at Eden

Eden Primary P6 pupils planting for Tree Week
P6 pupils from Eden Primary School attended a Tree Planting event at Eden Allotments & Playing Fields last week.

The 37th annual National Tree Week will ran from 26th November to 4th December 2011 and launches the winter tree-planting season. Every year millions of trees are planted across the UK as part of the initiative. Tree Week started in 1975 and this year in Carrickfergus Borough we will be playing our part by planting more trees that ever.

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 community woodland.

Also in attendance were representatives from local charity Mindwise, the environmental improvement group Conservation Volunteers plus local MLA Roy Beggs and Councillor Andrew Wilson.

Monday, 24 October 2011

'in Bloom' winners honoured at prize-giving

Christine Harper with Mayor of Carrickfergus, Jim McClurg
Floral creativity has once again been recognised by the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative organised by Carrickfergus Borough Council. Local competition winners and runners-up will receive their well earned certificates and prizes at a prize-giving lunch in Carrickfergus Town Hall today (Friday 21st October 2011) with over 100 people attending the event.

Competition categories included Best Kept Garden & Best Kept Container Garden for householders; Best Kept Commercial Premises for commercial organisations; Painting, Poetry and Tallest Sunflower Competitions for young people; and for internet users we have the Virtual Flower Show.

At the Lunch, the Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie thanked all those who took part in the competition and made it such a success. "The Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competitions have really caught the imagination of our Boroughs citizens. This year over 1,850 people battled the wet summer weather and economic downturn to create some beautiful colourful floral displays that we can all enjoy." said Alderman Beattie

"Carrickfergus in Bloom is a beacon of community gardening good practice, as it encourages people to get involved, builds community spirit and improves the environment we all live in. With initiatives such as our school growing clubs and one pot pledge create opportunities for health, wellbeing and learning."

Alderman Beattie also thanked the Competition Sponsors who paid for many of the flowerbeds and hanging baskets throughout the Borough. "The success of Carrickfergus in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses throughout the Borough of Carrickfergus."

"We would also thank our partners that have made Carrickfergus in Bloom such a success. Conservation Volunteers, The Woodland Trust, Translink, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Department of Regional Development and many others have all helped to improve the environment of Carrickfergus Borough this year“. Ended Alderman Beattie

Link to Carrickfergus in Bloom Prize Winners

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Painting & Poetry Competition Winners Announced

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee has announced the winners and runners-up (list enclosed) of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Children’s Painting & Poetry Competitions.

Alderman Beattie said "We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Children's Painting & Poetry Competition Winners and Runners-up. The response from our young people has been extraordinary with hundreds of entries to judge. I am thrilled about the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of artistic talent in our community. Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the end of October in Carrickfergus Town Hall to receive their certificates and prizes."

Children’s Painting Competition 15 and under
Winner: Anna Gorrod, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Chloe Matheson, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Eve Bankhead, Carrickfergus.

Children’s Painting Competition 10 and under
Winner: Sophie Creighton, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Amy Milnes, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Billy-Jo McClure, Carrickfergus.

Children’s Poetry Competition
Winner: Kathryn Howard, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: William Clarke, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Olivia Moore, Carrickfergus.

All winners listed at

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Virtual Flower Show Competition: Winners Announced

The winners of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Virtual Flower Show have been announced by the Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie. The Virtual Flower Show with a £450 prize fund is the only online competition for local people to show off their gardening and photographic skills. Judging was carried out on the internet by popular vote from members of the public.

Alderman Beattie said "The Virtual Flower Show organised by Carrickfergus in Bloom is an excellent opportunity for Carrickfergus Borough residents to show off their photographic and gardening skills in this internet based competition. The winning photographs can be viewed at Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom next year. To encourage people to enter the Virtual Flower Show we ran a free prize draw to win a Digital Camera, the winner was Ellen Hendry from Carrickfergus."

The Winners and Runners-Up (View Winning Photographs Here) are:

My Garden
Winner - Peaceful Sanctuary by Leah Thompson
Runner-Up - Room with a view by David Jackson

My Favourite Outdoor Plant
Winner - Lily White by Joanne Campbell
Runner-Up - Red on Black by Alan Cranston

My Favourite Indoor Plant
Winner - Curly Wurly by Jean Jackson
Runner-Up - Springtime Comes by Joyce Kernohan

My Favourite Landscape / Garden Setting
Winner - Snowy by Shelley Malcolmson
Runner-Up - View from Slemish by Crystal McClean

Flowers in their natural, wild setting
Winner - Still Waters by Gladys Blair
Runner-Up - Fern by the Fall by Warren Smyth

Flowers with pets or other animals
Winner - Dandering Duck by David Jackson
Runner-Up - Norton by Phil Hodges

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Council Volunteers Help Stem the Tide of Rubbish

On Friday (16th September 2011) Carrickfergus Borough Council staff and their families helped the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) fight marine litter by kick starting the Beachwatch Big Weekend on the Marine Highway Shoreline. Volunteers cleaned the beach of its litter and completed surveys, which will be sent back to the Marine Conservation Society allowing them to tackle marine litter at its source.

Stephen Daye, from Carrickfergus Borough Council said "Thousands of items of litter were lifted, from plastic bottles, drink cans and plastic bags. Other interesting finds included a tyre, fire extinguisher and items of clothing. Litter comes from four main sources: fishing, shipping, the public and sewage related debris (particularly cotton buds). Beach litter is continually washed ashore, making it a very difficult problem to eradicate, this is why the UK wide survey is so important!

"Last years Beachwatch Big Weekend revealed a shocking rise in the amount of bathroom rubbish found on UK beaches. Some householders are using their loos as bins and flushing away items. The amount of sewage related debris ending up on our shores shot up by 40%, according to the latest Beachwatch report published earlier this year. The results of the Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Beachwatch Big Weekend will be published next spring." Concluded Mr. Daye

Beach litter is an increasing problem in Northern Ireland with approximately one item of litter being found per footstep on beaches. Amanda Wilson, the Marine Conservation Society organiser for the Marine Highway Shoreline said, "Some of our best loved marine wildlife is under threat from hazardous litter in our seas. Hundreds of species of marine wildlife accidentally eat, or become tangled up in litter - and it’s also hazardous to people. It’s great that Carrickfergus Borough Council is so keen to be involved with the work of MCS and have shown such enthusiasm for Beachwatch Big Weekend". For more information on events taking place throughout Northern Ireland visit

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tallest Sunflower Winners Announced

The winner and runners-up of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Tallest Sunflower Competition have been announced today.

The winner: Joel McKimm (pictured) aged 5 from Carrickfergus whose sunflower grew 3 meters 30 cm. The runners-up are Emily Turner from Carrickfergus & Rebecca Boyd also from Carrickfergus.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Officer explained "Carrickfergus Borough Council distributed in March, two thousand packets of Sunflower seeds to local school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative to Get Kids Growing. After months of tender loving care by the young people it’s great to see the end results. The time and dedication many entrants spend on tending their sunflowers is extraordinary and is a credit too them."

Link: More 2011 Competition Winners

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Ulster in Bloom Success for Carrickfergus Borough

Gardeners throughout Carrickfergus Borough are celebrating following the results announcement for the 2011 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition. The horticultural talents of our Borough were recognised at a ceremony in Ballymena with awards for Carrickfergus Town and Whitehead Railway Station.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer, who attended the award ceremony, said "After a summer of fierce competition and intensive judging, Carrickfergus received a second place in the Large Town Category. The Borough also was successful in the Community Rail Halt category with Whitehead receiving the third place. Translink Ulster in Bloom is a magnificent opportunity for our Borough to enhance its surroundings and create beautiful displays that are enjoyed by everybody. Our Borough is renowned for its floral displays which are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. The Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative also plays a critical role in bringing people and investment to the town. However, it's important to say that issues such as cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement are equally as important. In the Borough, the 'In Bloom' initiative is much more than bedding plants and making the Borough look good for one day; instead it is a 365 day initiative. Carrickfergus Borough Council along with our partners have done a wonderful job in broadening the appeal of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative, by getting people to work together we have made our Borough better. Our successes within Ulster in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses and local people throughout the Borough; and statuary bodies such as the Housing Executive and Department of Regional Development. I would like to personally thank all the staff at Carrickfergus Parks and Cleansing Sections whose hard work and imagination has been the backbone of our entry over the years and I congratulate everyone who took part this year."

John Trethowan, Chairman, Translink, said "With 127 entries from local councils, businesses and community groups as well as 21 bus and rail station entries, Translink Ulster in Bloom continues to attract high participation levels as people throughout Northern Ireland demonstrate their superb gardening talent. Participants have shown immense skill and creativity to ensure their areas are kept attractive. Their exquisite plant and floral displays can be enjoyed by both local people and tourists, making a positive lasting impression during their visit to Northern Ireland. While a number of category titles have been retained by several council areas, we have also seen a number of newcomers reach the top three placings. We hope these impressive displays will encourage even more people to get involved in Ulster in Bloom next year." said Mr. Trethowan.

Councillor Evelyne Robinson, President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said "As NILGA President, I welcome the opportunity to convey my appreciation and gratitude to the many councils, local ‘In Bloom’ committees, volunteers and supporters for all their hard work and countless dedication which all contribute to the ongoing success of the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition. I am especially pleased at NILGA’s support and our continual encouragement to councils in their entries. As a Councillor I recognise the improvement in my constituency area of Ballymoney, I am very conscious of the savings which can be achieved for rate-payers through involvement in the Competition. Careful husbandry and a feeling of ownership by the residents is very helpful in combating vandalism and the nuisance of anti - social behaviour, besides providing education through good example. A pleasant, attractive environment can also be very useful in encouraging tourists to visit, and in influencing potential investors to establish new businesses. Congratulations to the winners and yet again sincere thanks to the sponsors, judges, councils and all those who make the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition what it is today."

Martyn Todd, board member, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said "We are proud to offer continued support to Ulster in Bloom and commend the enthusiastic efforts and hard work of all the entrants. This competition plays an important role in making Northern Ireland a must see destination by bringing colour and vibrancy to our towns and villages which makes local areas appealing to both domestic and international visitors. And in creating such attractive townscapes, it also engenders a source of civic pride. The Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition is organised by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association with the support of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board."

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Carrickfergus in Bloom Garden Winners Announced

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee has announced the Carrickfergus in Bloom Competition Winners and Runners-up this morning for the Borough-wide Best Kept Awards.

At the home of the Best Kept Garden winner Shelia Johnston, Alderman Beattie said “We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition Winners and Runners-up. We are thrilled with the response from those taking part and impressed with the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of horticultural talent in our community.”

“Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom in the coming year. I would also like to thank the sponsors for supporting Carrickfergus in Bloom." ended Alderman Beattie.

Sephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council and one of the judges commented "We where very impressed by the number of high quality entries this year, the time and dedication many entrants spend in their gardens is a credit too them. Deciding on a winner was very difficult for some categories; however all who took part should be proud of their achievements."

Best Kept Garden
Winner: Shelia Johnston, Carrickfergus (Pictured Above)
Runner-Up: Leslie Spearman, Whitehead
Runner-Up: Eddie Polland, Whitehead
Runner-Up: John O’Neill, Carrickfergus

Best Kept Container Garden
Winner: Christopher Betts, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Ruth Hickey, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Robert Welch, Eden
Runner-Up: Bill Johnston, Carrickfergus

Best Kept Community Planting Scheme
Winner: Charles Sheils Charity
Runner-Up: Brighter Whitehead
Runner-Up: Greenisland Environmental & Heritage Group
Runner-Up: Barn Court Children’s Home

Best Kept Commercial Premises
Winner: McMasters Butchers, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Northern Bank Limited, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: DeCourcy Centre, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Cafe, Pub or Hotel
Winner: The Old Tea House, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Brewers Fayre, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Hillcrest, Carrickfergus.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Voting Starts on Virtual Flower Show

Voting has started on the Carrickfergus in Bloom Virtual Flower Show. Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee explained “The Virtual Flower Show is a web based competition that encourages people to submit to the Virtual Flower Show website ( a favourite photograph taken during the last year, which fits one of the classes".

• My Garden
• My Favourite Outdoor Plant
• My Favourite Indoor Plant
• My Favourite Landscape or Garden Setting
• Flowers in their natural, wild setting
• Flowers with pets or other animals

“The Carrickfergus in Bloom Virtual Flower Show affords the community an opportunity to view and vote on the horticultural work of local people. I would encourage borough residents to log-on to the Carrickfergus Borough Council Virtual Flower Show website at to view the entries and vote for their favourite. The quality of the work is very high and the willingness of local people to display their Carrickfergus in Bloom themed work is commendable.”

“Judging is by popular vote from members of the public. Votes will be cast electronically via this website from 23rd August to 20th September. Voting is easy just log on to and pick your favourite photograph. The photo in each category that receives the most votes wins. The winners and runner-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. “ Mr Daye ended

Friday, 12 August 2011

Enter the Tallest Sunflower Competition

1st September is the last day applications will be accepted for the Carrickfergus in Bloom Tallest Sunflower Competition.

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee is asking those young gardening enthusiasts who have not filled in their application to do so before 1st September. "Carrickfergus Borough Council in April handed out thousands of sunflower seeds to Carrickfergus Borough primary and secondary school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. We also distributed application forms with the seed packs and have been amazed by the number of applications and photos received to date, the competition is really catching the imagination of our young people. Last year’s winner Naomi Kinnon aged 7 from Carrickfergus grew a sunflower of over 3 meters high and we hope that these dizzy heights can be reached this year also. “

“Applicants for the Tallest Sunflower Competition are requested to measure their sunflower during the last week of August using a metric tape measure and complete the application form. Additional application forms are available from the Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre, Local Newspapers or from the Carrickfergus in Bloom website:

“The Carrickfergus in Bloom Children's Community Competitions have a total prize fund of £350. Other competitions include Poetry & Painting; entries for these competitions must be received by 30th September.”

"Everybody who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus is invited to take part in Carrickfergus in Bloom as there is something for everyone. By entering you not only brighten up your own house but you also aid our Borough's entry to the Ulster in Bloom competition." ended Alderman Beattie

The winners and runner-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

New Diamond Jubilee Woodland in Whitehead

Diamonds are forever: Carrickfergus Borough Council and the Woodland Trust to create a living, lasting legacy in Whitehead.

Whitehead in County Antrim is set to sparkle with a precious new addition. Land on the doorstep of the seaside village will be the Northern Ireland venue for a new 'Diamond Wood' to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

Sixty new Diamond Woods - each 60 acres in size, plus hundreds of smaller Jubilee Woods are being created across the UK as part of the Woodland Trust's ambitious Jubilee Woods project. The aim is to plant 6 million trees and to involve millions of people in the planting.

The County Antrim gem - just over 60 acres of improved grassland - has been made available by Carrickfergus Borough Council and sits amid a patchwork of fields and pockets of woodland to the north of Whitehead.

The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg, says: "The creation of this Diamond Wood brings a special opportunity for everyone to make a personal and lasting contribution to the landscape, while marking an historic event. Working with the Woodland Trust, we hope that as many people as possible - members of the public and schoolchildren - will take part in a series of events next spring. Within as little as 10 years, the trees will be towering over the tallest of walkers and we'll have a flourishing woodland, rich in wildlife. We envisage a fantastic natural resource for the benefit of local people and, of course, visitors en route to the Antrim coast."

The project will commemorate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth's 60th year as monarch. Next to Queen Victoria in 1897, she is the only British sovereign ever to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.

The Woodland Trust hopes to encourage other landowners to plant their own Diamond or Jubilee Wood, and is offering help, advice and in some cases funding. The Trust is also offering thousands of free Jubilee tree packs to schools and community groups. Designed to help groups enhance local shared spaces, the community tree packs come in two sizes: 105 trees (suitable for a small grove or hedge) or 420 trees (for planting on one acre of land). Groups can choose to plant for wildlife; for wood fuel; year-round colour; or tasty treats. To find out how to get involved, please contact the Woodland Creation team on 0845 293 5680.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Playday in Carrickfergus

Residents of Windmill and Minorca Drive in Carrickfergus had a fun time at Playday this week. Playday is the national day for play, traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August. Playday 2011 was on 3rd August with an event in Windmill Play Area, Carrickfergus taking place from 11am to 1pm.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer said “This was an excellent opportunity to enjoy the new £50,000 extension at Windmill Play Park. Amid the flurry of activity, we had face painting, balloon modeling, bouncy castle, competitions and games. The family-friendly fun free event was designed to promote the importance of outdoor play for young children and encourage adults to get involved too. Play is such an important part of any child's development and Playday provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate it and promote its many benefits. It also highlights the benefits of imaginative play to parents and communities”

“Outdoor play is vital for any child, providing stimuli to learn and the health benefits of being in the open air. The range of play opportunities on offer in Carrickfergus Borough is extensive and gives parents and carers some great opportunities to get outdoors with their youngsters. Getting outside to play is healthy. It’s part of a healthy lifestyle. Play reduces stress and helps fight the obesity epidemic in our society today. So many good things come from good play.”

“Windmill Play Park which opened last month was funded from the EU PEACE III Programme, which is managed by the Special EU programmes body and delivered by the Carrickfergus, Antrim & Newtownabbey (CAN) PEACE III Partnership.” end Mr. Daye

To celebrate Playday, children, young people and communities get out and play at hundreds of community events across the UK. As well as a celebration, Playday is an opportunity to campaign on issues affecting children's play.

This year, we're calling on everyone to celebrate Playday 2011 and show why play is fundamental to children's enjoyment of childhood, and vital to their health, well-being and development. In light of government cuts to play services across the country, it is more crucial than ever that we unite to stand up for play.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Love Parks Week Photographs

Blooming Wild Day Out at Amphitheatre Mill Ponds on 27 July 2011

Jason Ashton, Katie Tyrrell, Sophie Brown, Samantha Thompson, Emma Thompson & Paul Browne at the Blooming Wild Day Out at Amphitheatre Mill Ponds on 27 July 2011.

Butterfly Counting at the Blooming Wild Day Out at Amphitheatre Mill Ponds on 27 July 2011.

Phil, Tristan, Crystal and Kallista McClean at the Blooming Wild Day Out at Amphitheatre Mill Ponds on 27 July 2011.
Molly Summervale at the Blooming Wild Day Out at Amphitheatre Mill Ponds on 27 July 2011.
 Declan Lee at the Butterfly Count at Eden Allotment Gardens on 25 July 2011.
Big Butterfly Count at Bashfordsland on 25 July 2011.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Carrickfergus Borough Residents Join the Big Butterfly Count

Resident’s of Carrickfergus Borough joined the UK wide count for butterflies in their gardens, local parks and at an event in Eden Allotment Gardens and Bashfordsland Wood.

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey that is taking place between 16th and 31st July. Local people are encouraged to get involved in saving our butterflies and help build a picture of how butterflies are faring in Carrickfergus Borough and across the UK.

Anyone can take part, anywhere, anytime before the end of July. You can take part at home, in your local park, at your local nature reserve or green space. All it takes is going outside for 15 minutes on a sunny day and recording how many butterflies you see. Even seeing no butterflies is really important as this helps us gather information on areas where we need to focus conservation efforts and increase awareness and understanding of these fragile creatures. Seven out of ten butterflies in this country have seen declines in the last decade with some even facing extinction.

Sir David Attenborough who is the President of Butterfly Conservation. He said: “The Big Butterfly Count should be great fun. Butterflies are extraordinary, heart lifting creatures – visions of beauty and visions of summer. Butterflies in profusion tell us all is well with nature. When they decline it’s a warning that other wildlife will be soon be heading the same way. So with the Big Butterfly Count we’ll be doing more than just counting butterflies – we’ll be taking the pulse of nature. “

Catherine Bertrand, from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland said: “The measures we take to protect butterflies in Carrickfergus result in a healthier environment, not just for wildlife but for everyone who lives here. I would encourage Carrickfergus residents to come along to the Butterfly Count events at Eden Allotment Gardens and Bashfordsland Wood. ”

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Carrickfergus Borough gets set to love parks

The people of Carrickfergus Borough and throughout the UK are showing how much they love their local parks by getting out and celebrating national Love Parks Week, which takes place between Saturday 23rd and Sunday 31st July 2011.

Alderman Jim McClurg, Mayor of Carrickfergus said “Love Parks Week encourages friends, families, the young and old, to come together and enjoy what our parks and green spaces offer. People must never forget that these spaces provide many opportunities for friendships, education, health, exercise and simple play and fun. Let’s celebrate our green spaces, show you support for Love Parks Week.”

“Love Parks Week is the perfect excuse to get outdoors and enjoy the summer. We’re celebrating all that parks have to offer, so why not visit your local park during the campaign to show what it means to you?

“Love Parks Week is the ultimate green campaign; it commands for our parks and green spaces to be supported and invested in, whilst delivering a whole week of free local outdoor events throughout the Borough, visit our website to find out what’s going on in a park near you.”

“Events range from Tai Chi, Zumba & Boot Camps to Moth and Butterfly Hunts and other wildlife events and walks. We also have ‘Picture the Parks’ a chance to celebrate our parks and green space through photography with local experts from Carrickfergus Camera Club who can show residents how to take that professional standard photograph. We want these events to inspire people to get out and enjoy fresh air and fun outdoors.”

“Sometimes people overlook the many benefits our leafy parks and green spaces provide, from physical and mental health improvements to pure play and entertainment, plus let’s not forget the contribution they make to building communities and their enormous environmental benefit.” Ended Alderman McClurg

Celebrating Love Parks Week’s fifth birthday, organisers GreenSpace aim to double their numbers by gathering one million people into parks and green spaces across the country, showcasing the benefits which are obtainable from free, local resources and encouraging further promotion and reinvestment into such valuable, but often forgotten assets.

Chris Beardshaw, award winning garden designer and TV presenter of ‘Get Up And Grow’ the BBC Northern Ireland gardening series is supporting Love Parks Week and is passionate about our green spaces, he said "I spent most of my youth outdoors and I think exploring a local park is a brilliant way to get children thinking about their surroundings and the community they live in. Britain’s parks are an invaluable legacy from the past - many are more than 100 years old – but they are an important part of our future. There is so much evidence now on the positive impact good green spaces have on our lives, be that our health and well-being, our social fabric, even helping the economy and reducing crime rates and the evidence is continuing to grow. By visiting a public green space and witnessing the passion and enthusiasm of those who create and maintain them, you can enliven the senses and help keep these spaces alive and vital.”

Paul Bramhill, Chief Executive of GreenSpace, said: “We are asking as many people as possible to get into parks to join our campaign for continued investment and support for these valuable assets. Love Parks Week is an annual UK campaign, organised by parks charity GreenSpace. The campaign has been established as a major event that is celebrated in parks across the country. Last year Love Parks Week saw over 800 events registered across the country providing opportunities for nearly half a million people to get together outdoors and make the most of what our parks offer.”

Web Link:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Trees or Turf

A report prepared for the Woodland Trust highlights the cost savings and other benefits of planting woodland as opposed to grassland in urban areas.

The report "Trees or Turf - best value in managing urban green space", produced for the charity by Land Use Consultants, compares the costs of maintaining a number of grassland regimes with those of different woodland types in urban areas. The results show that native woodland creation can provide an attractive and less costly alternative to amenity grassland.

For further information, including a full copy and summary of the report, visit

Launch of Windmill Play Area extension

Residents of the Windmill & Minorca Drive area in Carrickfergus will be enjoying a new Play Area extension, regardless of ages or abilities. So says the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg who will officially open the new extension on Saturday 2nd July 2011.

Launch of Windmill Play Area extension
Alderman McClurg said “Following local consultation through the Windmill & Minorca Drive Residents Association it was agreed that we needed to cater for recreational needs of residents regardless of age or ability. “The play area provides an excellent opportunity for children, parents and grandparents to come together in a safe and fun environment. The play area equipment not only provides recreational activities for children, but also caters for the older generation that wish to improve health and mobility through the inclusion of specially designed exercise units.”

“One of the underlying priorities for this project was to build and create friendships within and between neighbourhoods and increase community cohesion. The Windmill & Minorca Drive area is the Borough’s only shared neighbourhood which enabled us to apply for funding from the PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU programmes body and delivered by the Carrickfergus, Antrim & Newtownabbey (CAN) PEACE III Partnership. “The central purpose of the shared neighbourhood programme is to develop neighbourhoods where people choose to live, regardless of their religion or race, in an area that is safe and welcoming.” Ended Alderman McClurg

Councillor Noreen McClelland, Chair of the CAN Peace III Partnership added “The Partnership has been delighted to provide funding to this programme which has provided communities with a real opportunity to unleash their creativity and to present their area in a positive and artistic way”

Friday, 17 June 2011

New Orienteering Course in Carrickfergus

People in Carrickfergus Borough are being offered a new way to stretch their legs and their minds, with the launch of a new permanent orienteering course at Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen.

 The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg officially opened the new course and its accompanying map which was funded by Carrickfergus Borough Council. At the launch, 100 local secondary school pupils took part in a competition laid on by NI Orienteering.

Alderman McClurg said “We want to encourage as many people as possible to explore this beautiful woodland area and get fit at the same. Orienteering is a fun way to exercise both your leg power and your brain power. It’s also been proven that exercising in woodland and other green spaces boosts both your physical health as well as your mental health. The beauty of this area is the open access for active recreation, which lends itself perfectly to orienteering. Permanent orienteering courses like these are aimed at beginners and improving orienteer’s who want to practice their skills and enjoy a walk, or run in the woods. I would like to thank NI Orienteering for all their help and advice to make this project a reality and a big thank you to the Woodland Trust who manages Oakfield Glen.”

Helen Baxter, NI Orienteering said “Orienteering combines outdoor adventure and fun, it is ideal for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Orienteering involves using a map to navigate round a series of control points that are marked on the ground by red and white flags. Orienteering maps are specially drawn to a large scale with lots of detail. The sport provides a healthy mix of physical activity and mental challenge. Map reading skills are learned while having fun finding the markers on your course. Everyone can take part at their own pace. It’s perfect for children, who can run around in a fun, safe, controlled environment and also excellent for adults wanting to shape up, try something new and meet new friends.”

If you would like to try orienteering, visit the Council website for events or to download the course map. The map is also available at Oakfield Community Centre. The NI Orienteering website ( has lots of events and advice on Orienteering throughout Northern Ireland.”

Orienteering Course at Bashfordsland Wood

Friday, 10 June 2011

Reducing the Horticultural Use of Peat

Defra today set out a new policy framework to reduce the use of peat in horticulture to zero by 2030 as part of the Natural Environment White Paper. This includes the following milestones:

a progressive phase-out target of 2015 for government and the public sector on direct procurement of peat in new contracts for plants;

a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants;

we will establish a Task Force bringing together representatives from across the supply chain with a clear remit to advise on how best to overcome the barriers to reducing peat use, exploring all the available measures to achieve this goal;

building on the advice of the Task Force, we will review progress towards these targets before the end of this spending period and consider the potential for alternative policy measures if necessary.

The taskforce will be chaired by Dr. Alan Knight OBE and include representatives from retailers, growing media manufacturers, growers and environmental organisations. It will have a clear remit to foster a partnership approach focussing on identifying and addressing supply chain issues, exploring all available measures to deliver our ambition and determining the criteria against which the policy will be reviewed. Peat is cheap, readily available and of consistent quality, and any alternative has to compete with these factors. The taskforce will produce a comprehensive and detailed roadmap to address barriers in relation to both the supply and demand of peat alternatives, with the aim of reforming once and for all a supply chain focussed around peat.

Also published today was the summary of responses to Defra’s recent consultation on this issue, along with two research reports which provide part of the evidence base for today’s announcement. Link: Summary of consultation responses.

In Carrickfergus Borough Council we have already baned the purchasing of peat at our properties (more info here).

Friday, 20 May 2011

Launch of Carrickfergus in Bloom 2011

This lunchtime the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg, will be launching Carrickfergus in Bloom 2011 in the grounds of the Andrew Jackson Cottage. School children from throughout Carrickfergus Borough and Community representatives will also be joining the Mayor.

Alderman Jim McClurg said “This year we are continuing with the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition. Categories include Best Kept Garden for individuals; For children we have Painting and Poetry Competitions and the very popular Tallest Sunflower Competition. For the Business Community we have hotly fought categories such as Best Kept Shop. And for those interested in showing off their gardening and photography skills we have the Virtual Flower Show. All these competitions have not only brightened-up our Borough but have been fundamental to our success in Ulster in Bloom. Let’s make 2011 another winning years for Carrickfergus Borough.”

The Mayor also announced that in the next few weeks the Council will plant out thousands of summer bedding plants and thanked the many sponsors for their generous support and commitment to the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. He also thanked the local schools who have shown such commitment to the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. “The Schools Growing Club initiative is a great success and young people throughout the Borough are already benefiting with the link between healthy eating and growing fruit and vegetables at home and school. The growing schools initiative offers students the benefit of practical hands on activities, helping to motivate and enhance their learning experience.”

The Mayor continued “In 2011 we will continue with the Carrickfergus in Bloom campaigns of promoting capacity building through our grants initiative; we will also be encouraging wildlife gardening thought the Blooming Wild campaign; as well as the food growing campaign with initiatives such as the One Pot Pledge.”

“Fruit and vegetable growing is also taking place at Eden Allotment Gardens. Since the launch in 2008 the allotments have expanded to become the largest allotment site in Ireland. We thank Sunnybank Garden Centre for continuing their support of the Best Kept Allotment Competition.”

The Mayor also highlighted the important partnership working that is carried out. “Carrickfergus Borough Council along with the Department of Environment, Housing Executive plus various community and charitable groups are working together to improve the environment of Carrickfergus Borough. The significant improvements at Bashfordsland Wood is an excellent example of partnership working that involved many organisations." ended Alderman McClurg

Representatives from Brighter Whitehead

Councillor May Beattie with Stewart Bradshaw and pupils from Carrickfergus Grammar

Monday, 2 May 2011

Listen Again to Gardeners' Question Time in Carrickfergus

If you missed the broadcast of Gardeners' Question Time in Carrickfergus or just want to listen again just click the link below. The website also has some photographs of the event.

Link to BBC Gardeners' Question Time website

Eric Robson in Carrickfergus

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Gardeners' Question Time in Carrickfergus

Around 150 attended the recording of Gardeners' Question Time in Carrickfergus Town Hall last night. The panel members were Bunny Guinness, Bob Flowerdew & Christine Walkden with Eric Robson chairing the panel. It was announced that the recording from Carrickfergus would be broadcasted on Friday 29 April, the day of the royal wedding.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Gardeners’ Question Time in Carrickfergus

Followers of The Archers (the world’s oldest soap opera) will know of the excitement that is surrounding the visit of Gardeners’ Question Time to the fictional town of Ambridge. In Carrickfergus, a similar excitement is brewing with the popular Radio 4 programme being recording at Carrickfergus Town Hall on Monday 18th April 2011, the same day as The Archers broadcast!

Stephen Daye, Carrickfergus Borough Council said “I’m not sure how the Gardeners’ Question Time panel will be able to make Ambridge and Carrickfergus on the same day, but in Carrickfergus we are delighted that this event is taking place. A very limited number of tickets are available for the topical horticultural radio show and they are selling out fast."

"Tickets may be obtained from Carrickfergus Tourist Information Centre, 11 Antrim Street, Carrickfergus, BT38 7DG. (T: 9335 8049)”

“Gardeners’ Question Time is an opportunity for the people of Carrickfergus Borough to get that practical advice from a panel of expert gardeners. The 45 minute show will contain top gardening tips, from vegetable growing to wildlife, new plants to dealing with garden pests. The seasoned experts, who may include Anne Swithinbank, Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness, Chris Beardshaw, Matthew Biggs and Pippa Greenwood, will be available to answer your questions with Eric Robson in the chair.”

Gardeners’ Question Time in Carrickfergus is hosted by the Northern Ireland Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens.

Austin Herron, a mentor with the Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens and Carrickfergus allotment holder added "As a grateful and enthusiastic allotment plotholder I have always been aware of the level of interest and eagerness in gardening in the Carrickfergus Borough but the eagerness to participate has surprised even me - I think the Gardeners’ Question Time panel will need to be on their toes on the night if the toughness of the questions comes anywhere near the level of interest in the event."

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Friends of Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen

Want to take a direct role in improving Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen?
The Friends of Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen is a voluntary group of local residents who want to dedicate some of their time, energy and effort to caring for and improving this green space area.
A Friends Group is a number of interested local people coming together with the aim of improving the appearance, facilities, conservation value and safety of their local park. Anyone can join and give as much or as little time as they want.
Bashfordsland Wood is Carrickfergus’s newest parks and is managed by Carrickfergus Borough Council. Oakfield Glen is managed by The Woodland trust. Representative from both organisations will be at the first meeting which takes place on Wednesday 11th May, at 7pm in Oakfield Community Centre.
For further information please contact Carrickfergus Parks & Countryside Service on 9335 8000 or email

Download an application form to join the Friends of Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen

Monday, 21 March 2011

Frog Video at Bashfordsland Wood

Have enclosed below a video of frogs and their spawn at a pond in Bashfordsland Wood.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Allotment Event at Stormont

Carrickfergus Borough Council took part in an event at Stormont today (15th March 2011) to celebrate the booming demand for new allotments, community gardens and other green spaces. A leaflet 'Allotments in Northern Ireland' was also launched. The event was organised by the Federation of City Farms and Allotment Gardens and the Northern Ireland Allotment Forum. The event was hosted by Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim. The event had representatives from Council's and allotments and community gardening groups from all parts of Northern Ireland.

Stephen Daye, Carrickfergus Borough Council with Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim

Jermery Iles, FCFCG with Sammy Wilson MP and Austin Herron, Northern Ireland Allotment Forum

FCFCG Chief Executive Jeremy Iles said it was an exciting time for food growing and community gardening in Northern Ireland:

“We have been working alongside a range of environmental organisations, local authorities and land-based groups for several years to support this activity in Northern Ireland, but thanks to grant from Awards for All, we are now able to put our work on a firmer footing. This event will give us a further boost as it means we have the attention of policy makers in Northern Ireland.

“Ultimately we would like to see an increasing number of well-used, well-run and well equipped community gardens and allotment sites, giving the chance for local people to reap the benefits of growing their own.”

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Fun Day at Bashfordsland Wood

Have uploaded some photographs of the Family Fun Day at Bashfordsland Wood yesterday.

The Wilson family from Carrickfergus are shown some willow weaving techniques.

The Blackstock family from Lisburn at Bashfordsland Wood.

The Grant family from Carrickfergus enjoying the events at Bashfordsland Wood.

The rain and hale did not put off members of the Black, Green and McKnight families that attended the Family Fun Day at Bashfordsland Wood.

The Hamilton family enjoy the fun day at Bashfordsland Wood.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Radio 4: Gardeners' Question Time Recording

Carrickfergus Borough Council is delighted to announce that the popular Radio 4 programme Gardeners' Question Time will be recording from Carrickfergus Town Hall on Monday 18th April 2011.

Seasoned experts, which may include Anne Swithinbank, Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness, Chris Beardshaw, Matthew Biggs and Pippa Greenwood, will be available to answer your questions with Eric Robson or Peter Gibbs in the chair.

We are delighted that this event is taking place in Carrickfergus and that local people can participate in the audience for this exciting event. This event is hosted by the Northern Ireland Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens.

As well as fresh ideas and inspiration, Gardeners' Question Time offers solutions to most of your gardening problems. Packed full of practical advice from a panel of expert gardeners here's 45 minutes of top gardening tips, from vegetable growing to wildlife, new plants to dealing with garden pests.

A very limited number of tickets are available to this event and they will sell out fast, so book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets may be obtained from Carrickfergus Tourist Information Centre, 11 Antrim Street, Carrickfergus, BT38 7DG. (T: 9335 8094)

The recording will take place in the Jubilee Hall at Carrickfergus Town Hall. Doors open at 5.30pm and tea and coffee will be available before the recording starts promptly at 6.30pm.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Family Fun Day at Bashfordsland Wood

On Saturday 26th February you will be spoilt for choice with all the activities and entertainment on offer at the Family Fun Day at Bashfordsland Wood.
The day offers a variety of activities including face painting, storytelling, samba drumming, guided walks, willow weaving and arts and crafts.

Storytelling sessions 12.45pm, 1.45pm & 2.45pm
Guided walks 1pm and 2pm (meet at marquee)
Drumming Workshop - 12.30pm, 1.30pm & 2.30pm

Parking is available at Oakfield Community Centre. Bashfordsland Wood  is located at Red Fort Park, off Marshallstown Road, Carrickfergus - see location map.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Love your parks this Valentine's Day

...A stroll in the park will do wonders for you!
Did you know that just five minutes of exercise in a park has been shown to boost your mood and self esteem?
Show your local park some love this Valentine's Day!
Visit us at

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tree Planting at Bashfordsland Wood

Carrickfergus pupils from Oakfield Primary School planted trees in support of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers today.

The tree planting event took place at Bashfordsland Wood (Red Fort Drive off Marshallstown Road) on 28 January 2011 as part of the launch of Carbon Army in Northern Ireland.

Carbon Army is the climate change campaign organised by BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) - it’s all about taking local action on a global problem. The Carbon Army campaign is providing opportunities for positive action to help tackle climate change.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Carbon Army Tree Planting Event

On Friday 28th January 2011 (11am to 12.30pm) at Bashfordsland Wood (Red Fort Drive off Marshallstown Road). Help pupils from Oakfield Primary School in a morning of tree planting. Carbon Army is the climate change campaign organised by BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) - it’s all about taking local action on a global problem. The Carbon Army campaign is providing opportunities for positive action to help tackle climate change.  BTCV will provide: Fully trained leader - training and a safety briefing - first aid provision - an introduction to the work on site - tools, protective clothing, hot drinks and water - transport to the project site MAY be available from a specific pick up point - contact the office for details. Age group: Adults and children of any age; Registration: Required. Further info: Wrap up well with suitable winter footwear. Everyone is welcome. More details available from: Helen Tomb. Email: or tel: 028 9064 5169

See Bashfordsland Wood Map

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Exercising Outside is Priceless

Exercising outside is priceless, even at this time of year when many of us just want to stay inside and hibernate. Exercising in one of our many parks can lead to an immediate improvement in mood and self esteem, as well as physical fitness.
To help with this the National Trust has devised a 31 day plan in association with outdoor exercise specialists Eco Fitness. It has been designed to give you a real sense of the enjoyment, freedom and refreshment you can experience from exercising outside, so you can kick start the New Year feeling energised and invigorated.
Download the entire 31 Day Plan here.
Watch the video here.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Bird feeding this Winter

Providing food is one of the most helpful things you can do for your garden birds, so long as you are thoughtful with your feeding.

The RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology both suggest feeding birds all year round, but if we're talking survival, some times are more important than others. Garden birds can go hungry during the winter when food and water supplies are scarce, and parents will be in desperate need of food in spring when they have to provide for their young as well as themselves.

The RSPB advises that supper and breakfast are the most important meals for birds as they need an energy boost before and after a night's rest, especially in the colder months.

Invariably, the best thing you can do to provide food for your garden visitors is nothing. Birds love garden insects and other invertebrates so if you can bear it, let them in!

Fruit is a brilliant food source for birds and is most likely to be bountiful later in the summer and through the autumn. Leave your windfall apples and pears for the robins and blackbirds, thrushes and robins to enjoy, or store them somewhere dry and cool and put them out on the bird table or ground feeders in the colder months - they definitely won't mind the presence of the odd grub!

Holly and ivy are great for winter berries, and woodpigeons, thrushes and blackcaps love them. Stop robins going hungry over the winter by planting some spindle - their berries are a vital source of energy. You could also delay your annual pruning of herbaceous and berry-bearing plants until late winter to allow the seed-loving birds their fill.

A happy ecosystem brings happy birds, so let go of the perception of what's a weed and think in terms of what your wildlife wants. Nettles are insect attractants and insects attract birds. Brambles might be troublesome but they provide wonderful fruit and excellent cover for tits and other small birds.

Fat feeders

In the colder months all our wildlife is busy fattening up to survive the winter, so fat balls will be popular additions to your feeding stations. Only make these in the winter though as warmer temperatures will melt the fat causing it to go off.

You can buy ready-made fat balls in various shops but as a cheaper option try making your own. Pop seeds or dry mealworms into your fat feeder mix to add protein and carbohydrate. Never use polyunsaturated fat or butter as these can cling onto birds' feathers.

If you do buy fat balls they may come in a nylon mesh bag. Always remove them from the bags as otherwise birds may get their claws caught in the mesh and hurt themselves or even starve if not found soon enough.

If you don't want to make feeders you could also put out some finely chopped unsalted bacon rinds or grated hard cheese.


Peanuts are high in fats and protein and are really popular with tits, finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers and sparrows; but it's important to make sure you supply the right kind to avoid harming your garden birds.

Avoid leaving out whole peanuts unless they are in a wire mesh feeder as whole nuts may choke young birds in the spring. Crushed peanuts will attract robins and dunnocks too.

If you are buying peanuts be sure to get them from a reputable supplier and check that they don't contain aflatoxins which are poisonous to birds. Also avoid salted peanuts as most birds can't process the salt and so may die from ingesting too much.

Push some peanuts into holes drilled into old logs or branches to set a challenge for your nuthatches and woodpeckers.


In spring, live, protein-rich food such as mealworms will be a godsend for busy parents deperately foraging to support their growing chicks. Robins and thrushes particularly love these wriggly treats and live or soaked feed is best to give them the moisture they need.

You can buy mealworms from suppliers, and these are especially important during spring and early summer. A blue tit will feed hundreds of caterpillars and insects to its chicks during the breeding season. Put mealworms out on tray or ground feeders.

If you can, put out live mealworms or soak dry mealworms first to provide birds with the moisture that they deperately need through the winter or when in the nest. Avoid using discoloured worms which may carry diseases such as salmonella.

Nyjer seeds

Nyjer (niger) seeds are a big favourite of finches and siskins and are rich in fat. They are tiny and will fall straight through most feeders. Mix them with other seeds in a plastic feeder, stir them into your fat ball mix or put them on a tray.

Sunflower seeds

Many birds adore sunflower seeds and they are rich in protein and unsaturated fats. Whole seeds require substantial effort for birds to remove the husks, using energy that they can't afford to waste. Put out sunflower hearts or kibbled (crushed) seeds in the autumn to save them the effort, and to save you from having to tidy up scattered husks!


Cut a fresh coconut in half, drain and hang it up for tits. Once the coconut has all been eaten the remaining shell can make a great container for home-made fat balls or other seeds. Avoid putting out desiccated coconut as this can swell up in birds' stomachs making them very ill.


Dried fruit, bacon rinds, cooked rice, spare dog or cat food, leftover grated cheese and the remnants from the bottom of your cereal packet can all be left out for birds so long as they are finely chopped. Avoid fat from cooking as this smears in a way which is not good for birds' feathers. Biscuits should be crushed and soaked where possible to avoid choking birds and to add moisture.
Never give birds milk as they cannot digest it. Avoid cooked oats but uncooked are fine.
For more bird feeding advice visit the RSPB website.