Monday, 25 November 2013

Celebrate the Christmas Hedgerow

Join hedgerow experts for a FREE fun family day Saturday 30th November 2013 (11am to 1pm) at Eden Allotment Gardens for guided walks, foraging, exploring biodiversity and planting; make seasonal Christmas wreaths and walnut boats; take part in art workshops; plus food demonstrations and tasting of hedgerow drinks, pancakes, jellies. Please bring suitable outdoor clothing and footwear! Web Link:

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Tree Week Launched in Carrickfergus Borough

National Tree Week (23rd November - 1st December) is an annual festival to mark the start of the tree planting season, and a nationwide celebration of trees and woods. Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee has launched Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough. The launch at Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood highlighted our Borough's achievements since the year 2000, in which Carrickfergus Borough Council has planted 165,000 trees and by the end of this tree planting season in March 2014 we will have planted a further 5,000 trees around the Borough.

Alderman Beattie said “Although in recent years, pests and diseases have threatened some of our most loved trees, such as ash and larch, Carrickfergus Borough Council continues to be committed to planting more trees. National Tree Week is a great chance for communities to do something positive for their local treescape. 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 is great exercise, children love it, and you will be making a valuable contribution to our community woodland.” To take part in a tree planting event or for further information contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. t: 93358039 or e:”. ended Alderman Beattie

Our next tree event: ‘Celebrate the Christmas Hedgerow’on Saturday 30th November 2013 (11am to 1pm) at Eden Allotment Gardens (Beltoy Road, Eden). FREE fun family day with guided walks, foraging, exploring biodiversity and planting; make seasonal Christmas wreaths and walnut boats; take part in art workshops; plus food demonstrations and tasting of hedgerow drinks, pancakes and jellies. For further information please visit

For further information on this or future tree planting events please contact the Council’s Parks Service on 9335 8000. More tree planting events will take place in January, February and March to keep in touch visit

Photograph: L to R (Top) - Damian Armstong (Princes Trust), Alderman May Beattie (Carrickfergus BC), Beverley Todd (CAN Peace 3), Gerry Drake (Princes Trust), Courtney Laughlin (Princes Trust), L to R (below) - Olivia Smith & Peter Topping (Pupils from Whitehead Primary School).

Monday, 30 September 2013

Lantern Making at Oakfield Glen

Join the Woodland Trust for a free family lantern making workshop then take your lantern down into Oakfield Glen to hear our storyteller! It takes place on Saturday 26 October. Workshop sessions start at 6pm and 6.45pm in Oakfield Community Centre and booking is essential as places are strictly limited. To book a place(s) please contact or phone 02891 275787. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear suitable outdoor clothing. No Chinese lanterns/naked flames permitted. Event Link:

Friday, 27 September 2013

Ashes to Ashes

Recommend listening to the Radio 4 documentary 'Ashes to Ashes'. A year on from the discovery of the fungus Adam Hart investigates how quickly Ash dieback has spread across the country. Scientists are now sequencing the genomes of Ash and Chalara fraxinea - the fungus that is causing Ash dieback - in an effort to find why some trees are not dying from the disease. He also learns of another threat to our Ash trees - the emerald ash borer - which is currently found west of Moscow and is heading towards us. He discovers this pest has already infested Ash in North America and has left a trail of destruction behind it. Link to BBC Listen Again iPlayer:

Carrickfergus Children’s Charter Launched

Young people from throughout Carrickfergus Borough celebrated the launch of the new Children’s Charter and the completion of a year long initiative - Green Kids in Outer Space. Green Kids offered young people from across the Borough an opportunity to tell Carrickfergus Borough Council and other organisations what stops them from being able to play and what would make play easier and better for those young people. Their views have been recorded and used to write the Children’s Charter for the Borough.

The celebration event is part of the Green Kids in Outer Space initiative which has been supported by the European Union's PEACE III Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered locally through the CAN PEACE III Partnership.

The young people also took part in a number of art workshops facilitated by artist Janet Crymble between January and April 2013 and submitted paintings and photographs that were used to create three collages of Carrickfergus, Greenisland and Whitehead. The collages will be placed at Marine Gardens Play Park next month.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Blooming Marvellous Borough

The results of the 2013 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition were announced on Tuesday (10th September) celebrating Northern Ireland’s finest horticultural talent. The Borough won five awards in total, the most in any year since the inception of the competition. Carrickfergus came first in the Large Town category with Whitehead coming second in the Small Town category. The efforts of the Brighter Whitehead Community paid off as it received the Community Rail Halt award for its work. Carrickfergus Rail & Bus Station was runner-up in the Best Station award. Finally, Carrickfergus Borough Council won an award for its innovative Biodiversity projects.

Mayor of Carrickfergus Borough, Alderman Billy Ashe, speaking following the announcements, is clearly delighted with the accolades:
"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 is 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 a year initiative. Carrickfergus Borough Council along with our partners have done a wonderful job in broadening the appeal of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative and by getting people to work together, we have made our Borough much better.”

Alderman May Beattie said: “As Chairperson of the Parks and Countryside Sub Committee of Carrickfergus Borough Council, I am absolutely thrilled with the five awards achieved today.  The wins are all very well-deserved and I am delighted that this tops the number of awards achieved to date in any given year of the competition.  Our successes within Ulster in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses and local people throughout the Borough, as well as statutory 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."

Speaking at the results ceremony in The Mill, Downpatrick, John Trethowan, Chairman, Translink, said: “2013 continues to place Northern Ireland under the international spotlight with many high-profile events attracting thousands of visitors to cities, towns and villages. Beautiful plant and floral presentations play an important role in creating a lasting, positive and welcoming image of Northern Ireland, encouraging people to make return visits with friends and family.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Top Tips for Blackberry Picking

Take a container and search out brambles near you - try Bashfordsland Wood in Carrickfergus or Diamond Jubilee Wood or Beach Road Nature Reserve in Whitehead.

Try to pick blackberries that are away from the roadside (traffic fumes can impair the fruit) and avoid picking fruit from lower branches as they may have been visited by animails!

Blackberries don't keep for long so either eat them within 24 hours of picking or freeze them. If you are freezing them, lay them in a single layer on a baking tray in the freezer and then once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag

Remember to pick your blackberries by Michaelmas Day (29th September), by legend - the day the Devil spits on them, making them inedible.

Blackberry Recipes at the BBC

Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Council to celebrate the Miracle and Wonder of play

A feast of free family entertainment is set to thrill people of all ages at Carrickfergus' newest play park this weekend. The Miracles and Wonder Weekend event will be held at Marine Gardens in Carrickfergus on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th August 2013 from 11am to 4pm each day. This is not only a great opportunity to enjoy the new play area at Marine Gardens; we also have a number of children's activities to enjoy including bouncy castles, face painting, balloonmodelling, a DJ, giant lawn games, storytelling, Punch and Judy and much more. We also have an artist on site that will beorganising a number of arts and craft workshops.

The weekend's purpose is to celebrate the miracle and wonder of play.  The two day event is part of the Green Kids in Outer Space initiative which has been supported by the European Union's PEACE III Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered locally through the CAN PEACE III Partnership.

Green Kids in Outer Space has given children and young people from across the Borough an opportunity to tell Carrickfergus Borough Council what stops them from being able to play and what would make play easier and better for them and their friends. Their views have been recorded and used to write a play strategy for the Borough of Carrickfergus. This is a document that acts like a map charting what we as a Council need to do over the next four years to improve play opportunities in our area. The strategy document will be launched in September.

The Play Park is part of an overall investment at Marine Gardens of £1.3 million, the play park is segmented into sections for toddlers, juniors and seniors, ensuring that there is good quality outdoor fun for all to enjoy. The impressive centre piece is a galleon ship reaching a height of over 30 feet and which can be found in the senior nautical adventure area. The galleon called Result, is named after the very last ship to have been built in Carrickfergus in 1893.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Council unveil flowerbed to mark charity milestone

Carrickfergus Borough Council have planted a beautiful floral display in celebration of local premature baby charity, TinyLife who are celebrating 25 years of supporting families of premature and vulnerable babies born in Northern Ireland.

The flowerbed which is located on the Marine Highway near the historic Carrickfergus Castle was officially unveiled this afternoon by Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee who said, Carrickfergus Borough Council is delighted to highlight the good works of TinyLife and help them celebrate their 25 years anniversary.”

TinyLife offers a range of vital family support services, including a hospital to home service, breast pump hire, Dad’s support group and a dedicated baby sensory room for babies with disabilities and to aid the mother baby bonding process at the Carryduff offices.  The charity has supported a number of families in and around the Carrickfergus area and would like to extend their warmest thanks to Carrickfergus Borough Council, the Sub-Committee and Alderman May Beattie and the people of Carrickfergus Borough for their continued support.

Friday, 19 July 2013

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.
Love Parks Week takes place between Saturday 27 July and Sunday 04 August.

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee 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 in the Borough range from no pain no gain Boot Camp and Body Combat taster sessions to more genteel pursuits such as woodland walks and outdoor theatre. We want these events to inspire people to get out and enjoy the fresh air of Carrickfergus Borough’s green space.”

Love Parks Weeks is now in its seventh year and last year more than 1.4 million people were inspired to head down to an event at a beautiful park or green space. This is the first time the nationwide initiative has been run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, who stepped in at the eleventh hour to save the campaign following the closure of parks charity GreenSpace in March.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Love Parks Manager, Paul Todd said: “Love Parks Week is the ultimate celebration of our beautiful parks and green space and it is fantastic that Carrickfergus Borough is getting involved in this year’s event. Green spaces are absolutely vital to every community and make a massive contribution to people’s health. In this time of budget cuts, it is essential that everybody uses and values their local green space, otherwise we could all be in danger of losing them. We want this year’s event to be the biggest and best celebration yet, so we are urging everyone to get down to their local green space and take part in the festivities.”


Monday, 1 July 2013

This weekend (Saturday 6th July 2013) check out our Big Dock Dig Out at the Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wild Flowers at Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead

The wild flowers at Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead are looking great at the moment.

To find out more about the wood visit

Friday, 21 June 2013

2013 Translink Ulster in Bloom Launched

The 2013 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition was officially launched today (June 20) and this year judges will be paying particular attention to efforts to support Northern Ireland’s rich biodiversity.

The 35th year of the annual horticultural competition has attracted 145 entries representing councils, community groups, businesses, bus and rail stations all preparing to impress judges with beautiful plant and floral presentations.

2013 competition categories include: Small Village, Large Village, Small Town, Town, Large Town, City, Roses in Towns, Crystal Award, Special Awards for Outstanding  Presentation, Community Rail Halt, Floral Station and Most Improved. This year one of the ‘Special Award’ categories will be presented to the entry that shows the greatest efforts to support local biodiversity.

This latest development reflects Translink’s Biodiversity Action Plan that seeks to support natural habitats and species around the bus and rail network.

Translink is also distributing thousands of free packets of wildflower seeds to local stations for customers in a bid to support bees and the process of pollination.

Speaking at the official launch at Corick House, Clogher, Co Tyrone, Translink board member Angela Coffey explained:  “The Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition continues to attract entries from cities, towns and villages right across Northern Ireland, encouraging them to look their best through exquisite plant and floral displays. The skill, passion and dedication shown by local gardening talent leaves a lasting positive impression on visitors who possess considerable ‘spending power’, encouraging them to make a return visit.

“While displays look beautiful they also have the capacity to support nature and we are particularly keen for more people to consider biodiversity when choosing their plants, shrubs and flowers.
“Our Big Seeds Giveaway and the recent launch of Translink’s ‘BioBuzz’ initiative  - that asks passengers to record biodiversity they discover while travelling on the bus or train – all contribute to building a brighter, greener and more attractive environment for everyone,” said Angela.

Councillor Freda Donnelly, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said: “It is my pleasure and privilege to represent the Northern Ireland Local Government Association and to convey our admiration, appreciation and encouragement to the Councils, the local ‘In-Bloom’ committees, the residents, the business community and the very many people who supported, and actively participated in, the Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition since its inception.  “NILGA represents, promotes, sustains and improves local government on behalf of its 26 member councils; it is therefore fitting that we fully support and promote the Ulster in Bloom competition which aims to improve the quality of life for citizens right across Northern Ireland by the enhancement of our cities, towns and villages while encouraging us to care for the wider environment.

“I would like to pay a special tribute to the Councils ‘Parks and Technical Services’ Departments.  Their interest, enthusiasm and high standards of horticulture are to be admired and encouraged.  I would also like to thank the many citizens and local community groups for their tremendous work in conjunction with local councils. This combined effort has made a notable improvement to the environment and townscapes right across Northern Ireland, which I applaud and I know the Northern Ireland Local Government Association is most keen to encourage.”

Friday, 14 June 2013

'Love Parks Week' saved by Keep Britain Tidy

Keep Britain Tidy has stepped in to save Love Parks Week following the news that national parks charity GreenSpace was forced to close in March this year. Keep Britain Tidy already run the Green Flag Award scheme celebrating the country’s best parks and green spaces and the decision was taken that the flagship campaign should be rescued to run alongside it. Love Parks Week, which runs from 27th July to 4th August. Keep Britain Tidy has also announced that they will also be using Love Parks Week as the launch pad for building a new coalition of key partners to develop the week of action and, beyond this, build it into a year round ‘Love Parks’ campaign. The partnership is in its infancy but is likely to include Groundwork, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, as well as partner organisations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Love Parks Week was launched in 2006 to raise awareness of the importance of green space. Last year, more than 1,000 events took place during the week, encouraging more than 1.4 million people to head down to a beautiful park or green space. Despite the tight timescale to deliver this year’s campaign, Keep Britain Tidy hope the week will be another huge success, encouraging hundreds of thousands of people to celebrate the country’s fantastic green spaces. Their Chief Executive Phil Barton said: “We know that  parks and green spaces are an essential asset to every community and make a major contribution to people’s health. That is why we were determined that Love Parks Week should be saved. By bringing together Love Parks Week and our Green Flag Award programme, our goal is to encourage millions more people to visit, enjoy and take pride in their local parks and green space. Ultimately, we believe everyone has a right to good quality green space on their doorstep and there is a huge body of research shows that they are an essential component of healthy, happy and strong communities. In addition, I’m excited at the prospect of a new coalition of organisations coming together in support of a broader year round Love Parks campaign. While it’s early days, the fact that we can use Love Parks as a rallying call to bring the sector together in the face of substantial budget cuts and threats to park services means we can continue to demonstrate just how valuable our parks and green spaces really are."

Carrickfergus Borough Council who have supported Love Parks Week over the years, has welcomed the move by Keep Britain Tidy. A Council spokeperson said "We showcase are Parks during Love Parks Week to celebrate that quality green spaces are essential to healthy, happy communities.  See the Council's Love Parks webpage at"

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Peregine Watch

Like to meet the Whitehead peregrine family? You can on Saturday 8th June at 10am (to 12noon) in Beach Road Nature Reserve, Whitehead. Bring binoculars /telescopes if you have them. Park by the Scout Hut and join local expert Ian Enlander and Biodiversity Officer Ben Simon. For further information contact Ben Simon at 07841927919.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Launch of Carrickfergus in Bloom 2013

This lunchtime (24th May) Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities sub-committee will launch Carrickfergus in Bloom 2013 in the grounds of the Andrew Jackson Cottage. School children from throughout Carrickfergus Borough and Community representatives will also be joining in, to the sounds of the APEX Jazz Band.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ash Dieback at Diamond Jubilee Wood

Carrickfergus Borough Council has temporarily closed Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood to aid the efficient removal of the infected ash trees.The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) advised the Council earlier this month that two of its parks have been affected by the fungus disease Chalara fraxinea, which is commonly referred to as Ash Dieback. The two sites are Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead and Bashfordsland Wood in Carrickfergus. Bashfordsland Wood remains open. Carrickfergus Borough Council is taking every precaution to limit the spread of the disease in conjunction with both the Forest Service and DARD. Ash Dieback is a serious disease which causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, which can lead to tree death. Ash trees suffering with the infection have been found widely across Europe.
The wood will remain closed while the Contractor carries out the removal of the infected ash trees. We would like to apologise to those who use the park, although it is hoped that the wood will reopen on Friday subject to DARD approval. We would ask members of the public to help us to prevent the further spread of Ash Dieback by taking a number of precautionary measures when visiting the Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood or Bashfordsland Wood:
  • Keep to obvious paths and keep dogs on a leash
  • Watch out for information notices
  • Do not take plants or cuttings from our parks
  • Avoid dumping garden waste in the countryside
  • Familiarise yourselves with common plant pests and diseases
Carrickfergus Borough Council has put together advice and guidance for residents as to what to look for, who to contact and where to go for information about Ash Dieback. Visit our website:

Monday, 22 April 2013

Council thanks its Parks Staff

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee hosted a lunchtime reception at Carrickfergus Town Hall on Friday 19th April 2013. The purpose was to say a big thank you to the Council’s Parks & Countryside team following the recent awarding of the Translink Ulster in Bloom ‘Roses in Towns’ Trophy. Last September it was announced that Carrickfergus Town had been award the Ulster in Bloom ‘Roses in Towns’ Trophy and at an award ceremony last month Council was presented with the beautiful crystal award. The Roses in Towns Trophy, is presented annually to the Council area with the best display of roses. Our rose displays on Belfast Road, impressed not only the Ulster in Bloom judges but the residents of the town also. To win this much coveted award; a big thanks must go to our loyal Parks & Countryside team for all their hard work yet again this year. The Parks and Countryside Team have made a significant contribution over many years to our beautiful blooming Borough. Our green spaces always look fantastic, not just when the ‘in bloom’ judges are visiting us, and is a real credit to all the Council staff involved."

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Community Gardeners at Work in Carrickfergus

Carrickfergus Community Gardeners renovated a piece of green space between St. Nicholas Church and Market Place in Carrickfergus Town Centre on Saturday 9th March 2013. Well done to all involved.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Positive Play at Legg Park

Since September last year PlayBoard have been delivering a programme of outdoor play activities at Legg Park in Carrickfergus and two other parks in Antrim and Newtownabbey Council areas.

The programme has been funded by the CAN PEACE III Partnership. The CAN PEACE III Partnership is funded by the European Programme for Peace and Reconciliation which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The Partnership is made up of representatives from across the three council areas and is working to build positive relations and develop a confident and peaceful future for all.

Despite the wintry weather conditions over the past few months, PlayBoard’s Play Development Officers have been supporting children to become involved in a wide range of outdoor play activities within the parks. Activities have included den making, outdoor arts and crafts, traditional outdoor games and even cooking marshmallows around a fire pit!

The programme, which will run in each of the parks until the end of the summer has proven to be a big hit with children, parents and carers alike.

Speaking about the programme Alan Herron, PlayBoard’s Director of Service Delivery and Development said ““PlayBoard are delighted to be working in partnership with the CAN PEACE III Partnership and the three councils, delivering a programme supporting children’s play which is in line with the NI Executive’s Play and Leisure Policy and the PEACE III objectives”.

Alan continued “The Positive Play Programme is helping to make the parks more open and accessible for local people; with children, young people and their parents all reporting that they feel more comfortable playing in the parks, even during the winter months”.

Eamonn Keenan, a member of the Play Development team helping to deliver the programme explained, “At the outset many parents reported fears at allowing their children to play outdoors in the parks because of the dark nights. These fears have been addressed by the PlayBoard team’s presence in the parks, and thanks to the project over 320 children have been able to benefit to date from the outdoor play sessions.”

Early evaluations of the programme have indicated that it has really made an impact, with one parent saying “The PlayBoard programme is providing children and young people with a great opportunity to play outdoors in the parks - especially during the winter months when the cold, dark nights tend to keep them indoors”. Another said “The children can’t wait to come along to the PlayBoard play sessions – even the cold, dark and wet nights don’t deter them!.”

Congratulating PlayBoard on the success of the initiative, Councillor Noreen McClelland, Chair of the CAN PEACE III Partnership said “We on the PEACE III Partnership are delighted with the results from this programme. Parks and green spaces should be places for all of our community to enjoy all year round. This programme encourages families to come out to play in and enjoy their local parks”

For further details on when the play programmes are running in each of the 3 parks, please contact PlayBoard on 028 9080 3380 or visit the PlayBoard NI Facebook page.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Get Fit for Free in the Fresh Air of Bashfordsland Wood

LtoR: Lee Gorman, Jamie-Lee Mogey, & Stacy Keatley

Carrickfergus Borough Council has unveiled a new outdoor gym in partnership with The Woodland Trust and generous funding from BIFFA Award. The twelve-piece gym provides a great work-out in the beautiful surroundings of Bashfordsland Wood. The gym is completely free to use and is suitable for all, from experienced gym goers to beginners and offers any user of the park an opportunity to increase their physical activity. Designed to give a mix of cardiovascular, strength and toning exercises, each piece of equipment has clear guidelines for proper use and information on which part of the body it is benefitting.  

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks Sub-Committee said: “The Council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our residents. This outdoor gym shows how we continue to maximise the services available in our parks. The installation has been specially configured to allow users to get the maximum benefit of the equipment in the shortest time. By concentrating the equipment together, we have made things easier for people in the park who want a quick exercise routine during their lunchtime or after a walk. Physical activity produces real benefits for people and is important for all ages and abilities. It can help you keep a healthy weight and help improve your mood, reduce anxiety and protect against depression. Other outdoor gyms in the Carrickfergus Borough area are located at Diamond Jubilee Wood and Blackhead Path in Whitehead. These gyms provide a fantastic opportunity to get fit on your doorstep and I would encourage people to try them out.”

The BIFFA Award is a multi-million pound environmental fund, which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

Link: Bashfordsland Wood

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Planting the Hedgerow - Free Fun Day Out

Come along to this free event and find out what wildlife our native hedges support and why they are one of nature’s greatest assets.

EVENT DETAILS: Saturday 23rd February 2013 from 10am to 1pm at Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead.

You can access Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood via the pedestrian entrance at Bentra Golf Course car park. This free fun day out is for all the family. Please bring suitable outdoor clothing and footwear! Wellies are recommended for this site.

Species-rich hedgerows are important to us as well as to our wildlife. They are of historical importance often marking townland or estate boundaries. They also provide colour, shelter and food; act as stock barriers; and prevent soil erosion. Unfortunately, many of our native hedgerows have lost a lot of these values due to neglect or mismanagement. So, we’ve teamed up with Antrim, Belfast and Newtownabbey councils to restore and enhance the hedgerows in these areas.

You can play your part too. We want people to get involved to help restore and manage the habitats. We’ll provide you with training to help you develop skills required to support the restoration programme. Over the next two years we will be running foraging events and training workshops in autumn and winter. To get involved come along to this event or use the contact information below.

Hedgerow Hopes Initiative is a Heritage Lottery funded project.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch is back on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 January 2013, giving people across the UK the chance to be part of the World’s biggest wildlife survey.

Almost 600,000 people across the UK took part in Big Garden Birdwatch in 2012 and between them counted more than 9 million birds.

To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online at or in the post.

Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Get fit by joining the fight against litter!

Need a New Year’s Resolution? Get fit by joining the fight against litter! Litter Champions is a community project in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey that aims to support role models in their efforts to rid the borough of litter. The project aims to offer support by providing members of the public with equipment! Litter Champions are already hard at work throughout the Borough; some collecting litter from beaches, some from local walking routes and with others focusing their attention on improving their local neighbourhoods. As a Litter Champion, each volunteer will be provided with a FREE litter picker and a volunteer information pack. It doesn’t matter where individuals decide to volunteer or how often they volunteer, as Litter Champions they are role models in their community. Sharon from Newtownabbey who takes part in the project regularly said "Going places that you can walk and pick up litter are enjoyable". The Litter Champions project is being coordinated by Amanda Wilson, a young person from Carrickfergus who was recently awarded a grant worth £2,500 from O2 Think Bigger. Amanda said, "We are asking people to come forward to do their bit for their communities, and enjoy time outdoors keeping fit and healthy at the same time". The project is also being supported by Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey Borough Councils. For more information about the project or to get involved, please visit the weblink: