Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Carrickfergus In Bloom Children's Competitions

The Carrickfergus In Bloom Painting and Poetry competitions are now open. This annual competition has been arranged to encourage the Borough’s younger citizens to actively assist in our 'Ulster In Bloom' campaign. The competition is open to all those aged 15 and under. The winner and runner up will receive a prize and certificate.

Application forms can be downloaded here

The Tallest Sunflower Competition is also open. Entrants, aged 15 and under, should measure the size of their sunflower during the last week of August using a metric tape measure, complete the entry form, and return by the 1st September 2015 to: 

Carrickfergus In Bloom
Museum & Civic Centre
11 Antrim Street
BT38 7DG

Tallest Sunflower applications can be downloaded here 

Monday, 15 June 2015

A Shore Thing!

Whitehead Primary School's Eco Club got involved in some 'real science' last week and surveyed Blackhead Path, Whitehead for indicators of climate change as part of The Shore Thing project. The pupils began with a Shore Thing timed species search and found an abundance of hermit crabs, limpets, periwinkles and anemones. The group then completed a rock pool rummage and found more weird and wonderful creatures such as mud skippers, butterfish and rockpool prawn. 

The Shore Thing project gives schools and voluntary groups all over Northern Ireland the opportunity to take part in 'real science' and to help monitor the impact of rising sea temperatures. Most coastal organisms are adapted to specific sea temperatures and other specific conditions. Therefore, it's possible to monitor the impact of climate change very closely using the presence, absence and abundance of certain coastal species on our shores. The Shore Thing project allows anyone interested in the marine environment to contribute to this dataset by completing intertidal surveys and all the information collected by volunteers will be made available online and will help to build a picture of the present state of UK rocky shores and measure change in the future. For more information can be found here 

Blackhead path is a seaside walk from Whitehead Boat Club to Sunshine House. The path runs northeast from Whitehead and is lined by interesting wildlife habitats including grassland, woodland (known locally as the 'Magic Forest') and a rocky shoreline. The Lough itself is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) famed for its bird population, including nesting peregrine falcons.

The Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) for Mid and East Antrim Council was launched on 18th December 2014. The LBAP document sets out how biodiversity within the region can be protected and enhanced for the benefit of all and for future generations. Through this LBAP, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council wants to encourage people to get involved in local biodiversity. The Shore Thing project is another example of how we are doing so. The LBAP can be viewed and download here 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

National School Grounds Week

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is helping youngsters engage with their natural environment, but this time in a very familiar location – their own school grounds.

National School Grounds Week runs from 8th – 12th June with the theme of ‘pollination’ chosen this year. The initiative aims to get children outdoors, by having fun and engaging with their natural environment at the same time.

As part of this UK-wide project, children at Sunnylands Primary School in Carrickfergus , got outdoors to enjoy their grounds this week. They built dens, played traditional games and made their school garden more ‘pollination-friendly’ by planting a bee garden and making bee-homes. Alison Diver, Growing Communities Officer and Denise McVeigh, Physical Activity Leader, led the activities. 

The Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has set out a clear commitment to children’s play with a range of school ground events held in the past."

“This year’s theme ‘pollination’ is also perfect for us as we are committed to protecting and promoting biodiversity and are keen to provide opportunities for play and creativity in a natural environment.

“We hope to send the message that outdoor play and education is an extremely important part of children’s lives. What better way to do so than by ‘pollinating’ their young minds with ideas about the importance of biodiversity while at the same time supporting National School Grounds Week again.

“For some children, school grounds may be the only open green space they have access to. Numerous studies have linked both children’s physical health - with current concerns around childhood obesity, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise - and children’s mental health, well-being, learning and development to access to outdoor space.

“Outdoor play is extremely important for children as they build cognitive skills and begin to make sense of the world,” Cllr Ashe concluded.

Television naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, who also supports the project said: “School grounds are critical to the next generation’s connection with nature. If children do not grow up knowing and appreciating nature, then they will not understand its value and why they need to protect it. And if they do not protect it - who will?”

Friday, 5 June 2015

Caterpillar at Diamond Jubilee Wood

On Thursday 4th June Mid and East Antrim Borough Council collaborated with Business in the Community and Caterpillar staff on a tree maintenance volunteer day on site at Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead.

Business in the Community is a membership organisation for companies whose aim is to encourage companies to get involved individually and to use their skills and resources for the benefit of society and the environment by working together through collective business action. Companies involved can send staff members out to volunteer on a range of practical challenges which benefit the community and environment. 

The hard working volunteers weeded, card boarded and mulched the base of young apple, pear and nut trees in the community orchard on site. This is important maintenance for the site as it gives the young trees a better chance of reaching maturity. The team were lucky to get a sunny day and the volunteers enjoyed getting out of the office and learning some new practical skills.

Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead is 60 acre woodland which was created as a living, lasting legacy to commemorate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth's 60th year as monarchSixty Diamond Jubilee Woods, each at least 60 acres, were planted throughout the UK to symbolize 60 years of the Queen’s reign.  Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood is one of these flagship woods and is the only Diamond Jubilee Wood in Northern Ireland.

In 2012 more than 1,000 children and adults helped transform an open field into this beautiful new woodland and the site was officially opened by Mrs Joan Christie OBE, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim. The woodland now contains over 60,000 trees including a community orchard, 2km of paths, a 1000 square meter pond, a Commonwealth tree avenue, wild-flower meadows, a picnic area, outdoor gym equipment and a sculpture designed by a local artist and school children.

Monday, 1 June 2015

New Play Park in Greenisland

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council are pleased to officially open a new children’s play park in Greenisland. The play park was officially opened by Mayor Billy Ashe on Friday, 29th May 2015.

The park has an extensive range of high quality play equipment including multiple climbing frames, swings and the equipment is suitable for all children between 3 to 12 years old. The park includes equipment designed for children with disabilities.

Mayor Billy Ashe said “I am very pleased to officially open this play park in Greenisland.  This is something which will be very well used by the local residents. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are delighted to be able to provide attractive, modern and all inclusive play facilities for children and young people.”