Saturday, 27 August 2016

Mid and East Antrim Flower Show and Summer Fair a blooming success

Larne Market Yard became an extravaganza of colour as exhibitors showcased their green fingered talent at the Mid and East Antrim Flower Show and Summer Fair on Saturday 20th August.
Cherrie McIwaine of BBC Radio Ulster and the Borough's Deputy Mayor, Alderman William McNeilly commended everyone who took part in the show as they awarded prizes in Cut Flowers, Pot Plants, Vegetables, Home Industry and Children sections. 
  • Best Pot Plant - Best Cut Flower Exhibit – Jimmy Crawford (J & D Crawford)
  • Perpetual Cup for Best in Show - Jimmy Crawford (J&D Crawford)
  • Best Rose Exhibit -  Ronnie Campbell
  • Most Points in Cut Flower Section - Charles Holmes
  • Best Cactus - Rita O’Lynn
  • Best Home Grown Allotment Selection – Godfrey Robinson
  • Most points in Vegetable Section – Jim McKay
  • Best Monster Veg – Tom Alexander
  • Most points in Home Industries Section – Nicola Cowan
  • Best Exhibit in Children’s Section - Emily Quinn
  • Most Points in Flower Arrangement Section - Colleen Hamill
Alongside the Flower Show competition, visitors also enjoyed live music from the Linley Hamilton Band and Larne Music Yard, as well as craft demonstrations, NI Survival School, Phil's Farm and food demonstrations from Food NI.
The beautiful weather added considerably to the event as crowds were able to relax in the beautiful renovated Market Yard, enjoying the great family atmosphere of the event.
The date for next year's Flower Show has already been set as Saturday 19 August 2017 so everyone is encouraged to get planting, growing and baking for next year's event.
Ald. McNeilly, Cherrie McIwaine, Linley Hamilton and Stephen Daye 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Love Veg!

​The Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Alderman William McNeilly, has been celebrating all things ‘veggie’. He visited Eden Allotment Gardens, near Carrickfergus recently as part of a showcase event highlighting local produce, and vegetables in particular. 
The ‘Love Veg!’ event was part of the Borough’s ‘Wild about Food’ project which has been running since May - in collaboration with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council - and funded by Heritage Lottery Fund. It coincided with National Allotments Week, 8-14 August.
Alderman McNeilly said: “The ‘Wild about Food’ project is our contribution to Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink 2016 which is itself a celebration of everything delicious about Northern Ireland. At our Love Veg event we celebrated the fantastic local produce available to us in the Mid and East Antrim area and specifically all things ‘veggie’.
On the day, activities included ‘grow your own’ workshops, friendly farm animals from Blackberry Farm, building a giant bug hotel and of course a ‘veggie’ BBQ.
Allotment gardening can provide a number of benefits to individuals, such as the opportunity to produce a wide range of relatively inexpensive healthy vegetables, whilst at the same time providing physical exercise in the outdoors. It can create the opportunity to make new friends and in addition allotments are also beneficial to the environment and wildlife generally. We hope that by opening up our allotment sites and inviting the local community to see what happens behind the gates, more people will begin to see the benefits allotments bring.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Three successful weeks of Biodiversity Summer School

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has come to the end of three weeks of Biodiversity Summer Schools aimed to inspire and galvanize Borough residents to discover more about the incredible species and habitats on their doorstep.
The school took place each weekday morning from 1 to 19 August. This was the fifth successful year it was held in Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead as well as this year being extended to include Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne and Ecos Nature Park, Ballymena.
The summer school was free to attend and we are pleased to announce we had great numbers attending despite a number of rainy days.
Participants - The Mayor included - learnt all about our native wildlife such as birds and bugs, created natural art and learnt all about survival skills such as den making and how to forage for edibles. We have had some fantastic feedback from participants so far so thanks to all who came along!
Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead
Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne

Ecos Nature Park, Ballymena

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Britain in Bloom judging August 2016

Ahoghill was judged by Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) judges Sue Wood and David Jamison on Wednesday 3rd August in the ‘Champion of Champions’ category. 

RHS judges with Ahoghill in Bloom volunteers

Whitehead was judged by RHS judges Andrew Jackson and Geraldine King on Friday 5th August in the Small Town category.

Bill Pollock (Brighter Whitehead), Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, with RHS judges
This is a major achievement for both locations and is all the more significant as Mid and East Antrim is the only Council area in the whole of the UK to have two RHS Britain In Bloom finalists, with Ahoghill being the sole Northern Ireland participant in the Champion of Champions category of the Britain in Bloom competition.

The Britain in Bloom results will be announced in October. Good luck to Ahoghill and Whitehead!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Playday 2016 enjoyed by all

Playday is the national day for play, traditionally celebrated on the first Wednesday in August each year.

This year in Mid & East Antrim events took place right across the Borough in Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne, Shaftesbury Park, Carrickfergus and The People’s Park, Ballymena.

This was a great opportunity to enjoy the fantastic parks and open spaces in the Borough and enjoy a number of additional free Playday activities which included circus skills, Zumba in the park, a drum circle, hop scotch competitions, bouncy castles, face painting and music.

Thanks to everyone who came along and demonstrated how important play is to you, see you next year!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Guillemot breeding success at Carrickfergus Harbour

Council staff took to the seas in March 2015 to install a number of guillemot boxes around Carrickfergus Harbour. There were a number of guillemots located at the Harbour but limited sites suitable for nesting.

The nest boxes were kindly donated by Peter Scott, Senior Berthing Master at Bangor Mania, who is involved in a similar guillemot nest box scheme in Bangor. The nest boxes are designed specifically for guillemots and the entrances are too small for other birds in the area, such as seagulls, to use.

We now have a pair of guillemots nesting at Carrickfergus Harbour in one of the newly installed nest boxes and they appear to be feeding chicks. Excellent news!

Black guillemots are a species of Auk. Adult birds have black bodies with a white wing patch and red legs and feet. They eat fish and crustaceans and make their nests among boulders at the base of cliffs, in rock crevices and in man made structures, such as piers. The species is currently Amber-listed due to concerns over the decline in population. The main limiting factor for these birds is safe, secure nesting places, which is why guillemot boxes are important to the species.

For more information on biodiversity in Mid and East Antrim please click here

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Borough blooming for Royal Horticultural Society UK finals judging

Brighter Whitehead

Last summer 72 locations were selected to represent their region/nation in this year’s Britain in Bloom finals, each hoping to score top marks and be announced category winner at an awards ceremony in Birmingham on 14 October.

Ahoghill is in the ‘Champion of Champions’ category, facing steep competition from Lytham, St Pierre du Bois, Birmingham and Durham. Whitehead is in the Small Town alongside a large number of other small towns including St Saviour in Jersey, Studley in the Heart of England and Freckleton in the North West of England.

When assessing Ahoghill and Whitehead judges will take into consideration three key criteria: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility, demonstrated across public spaces such as town or city centres, parks and communal gardens, as well as natural spaces including conservation areas and wildflower meadows. Each entry’s final score also takes into account a whole range of complementary factors, from the condition of street furniture to the engagement of young people in Bloom activities.

UK-wide Britain in Bloom groups transform an estimated 3,459 acres, equivalent to 9.9 Hyde Parks or 1,965 football pitches into green havens for all. Bloom volunteers have transformed derelict land into community gardens, greened grey spaces, brightened up streets with floral displays, cleared litter, grown fresh produce, and so much more. As part of their commitment to creating green spaces in their communities Britain in Bloom groups, including the 72 finalists, have planted more than 10 million plants, trees and bulbs over the past year.

James Perry, from Ahoghill Traders' Association, (pictured below with the team) which co-ordinates the Ahoghill In Bloom initiative, said: "We have won many awards over the years, including 2015 Translink Ulster in Bloom Best Small Town, but were especially pleased to qualify for the Champion of Champions category this year and we hope this will be Ahoghill’s year. We have been very much inspired by the RHS 2016 theme of ‘Greening Grey Britain’ and have planted over 5,000 flowers this year, as well as carrying out major improvement works throughout town including our new community garden. Our volunteers have put in a great deal of time and effort and we hope it all pays off at the judging on 3rd August.”

Bill Pollock, Brighter Whitehead, (piuctured above) said: "We have been very successful over the years including winning the 2015 Translink Ulster in Bloom Community Rail Halt Award, and we are hoping to be successful in the Britain in Bloom competition this year. We have a fantastic Brighter Whitehead Committee who are out planting trees and bulbs and brightening up the town, come rain or shine, and we have a great many supporters and sponsors in Whitehead. Whitehead has a community orchard, a nature reserve, a community garden, award winning rail halt, and of course, flowers, flowers, flowers! We are looking forward to the judging and hope we will do well on 5th August.”

For more information visit

Ahoghill in Bloom 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Success at the 2016 Green Flag Awards

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is celebrating success after collecting three more coveted Green Flag Awards for its high environmental standards and excellence in recreational green areas, bringing the total number of Green Flag accredited spaces in the Borough to seven. The awards ceremony was held on Thursday 21 July at the Palace Demesne in Armagh.
Kim Moore, Heyn Environmental Solutions; Alison Diver, MEA Growing Communities Officer, Stephen Daye, MEA Head of Parks and Open Spaces, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen MLA, Noel Robinson, MEA Parks Manager; Zoe Lindsay, Carnfunnock Park Manager; Ald John Carson, Chair of Operations Committee and Sue Christie, Vice Chair of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Alderman John Carson, Chair of the Operations Committee, collected the the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK awards on behalf of the Mayor.
He said: “Holding a Green Flag Award brings with it a vast amount of prestige. It is an excellent example of civic achievement and provides communities with a great sense of civic pride. Winning a Green Flag Award visibly demonstrates to the local community and councillors that a site is being well managed for the benefit of the local community and local wildlife"
“The Green Flag Award has been running for many years and has become the recognized benchmark national standard for high quality parks and green spaces. Green Flag Award applications are judged against eight key criteria which are; A welcoming place, Healthy, safe and secure, Clean and well maintained, Sustainability, Conservation and heritage, Community involvement, Marketing and Management. We are pleased to be succeeding in all eight areas”
I’d like to thank everyone involved in this process including the Green Flag Award Scheme, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and of course our hard working staff who maintain and manage our green sites. Finally, a big thank you to the local communities who enjoy our sites, get involved in our events and activities and treat the sites with the respect they deserve.”
The Green Flag sites in Mid and East Antrim Borough are:
Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen, Carrickfergus

Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne

Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead

Dixon Park, Larne

Ecos Nature Park, Ballymena

Eden Allotment Gardens, Carrickfergus

The People's Park, Ballymena

Monday, 1 August 2016


Children in Mid and East Antrim Borough are being urged to get outside and play to celebrate Playday, the national day for play traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August each year. There are events taking place on Wednesday 3rd August right across the Borough in Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne, Shaftesbury Park, Carrickfergus and The People’s Park, Ballymena.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Audrey Wales said: “This is a great opportunity to enjoy the fantastic parks and open spaces we have in the Borough. For Playday we have a number of additional free activities such circus skills, Zumba in the park, a drum circle, hop scotch competitions, bouncy castles, face painting and music.”
“Play is such an important part of any child's development and Playday provides a great 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 are numerous. The range of play opportunities on offer in the Borough is extensive and gives parents and carers some great opportunities to get outdoors with their youngsters."
Event details:
  • Wednesday 3rd August: Playday, Carnfunnock Country Park Larne, 12noon – 5pm
  • Wednesday 3rd August: Playday, Shaftesbury Park Carrickfergus, 12noon – 3pm
  • Wednesday 3rd August: Playday, The People’s Park Ballymena, 10am - 1pm
 For more information click here