Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Mid & East Antrim Flower Show Flourishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 21 August 2017

Local Nature Reserve status for Carrickfergus woodland

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

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

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Green Flag success in Mid & East Antrim

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

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

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Cullybackey charms Britain in Bloom judges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Ballymena in Bloom

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

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

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Forest School comes to Carrickfergus

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

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

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

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

Monday, 15 May 2017

Blooming at the 2017 Garden Show Ireland

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

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

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Out to Play!

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are in the process of developing a Borough wide Play Strategy entitled ‘Out to Play’. The initiative was officially launched on Wednesday 3 May in the beautiful setting of Dixon Park, Larne.

Speaking at the launch Cllr Wales said: “Play is extremely important in keeping our children fit and healthy, physically and mentally. Play has been proven to increase imagination, improve social skills, reduce stress and improve physical skills including strength, coordination and balance, so it is a major focus for Council.”
At the beginning of  2017, the Council extended an invitation to all schools in the Borough to get involved in a consultation process around ‘Out to Play’ and six schools were chosen - St Anthony’s Primary School; Gracehill Primary School; Glynn Primary School; Braidside Integrated Primary School; Carrickfergus Central Primary School and Millquarter Primary School.
The pupils worked alongside a facilitator, Dawn Aston, and enjoyed outdoor workshops and creative sessions to identify what they like about their area, what they think could be improved and how young people spend their free time.
The strategy is being developed by talking to and working with children, parents, the local community and partner organisations and always checking back to ensure we are doing it right.
Play also benefits the community by involving children in creative and positive activities, helping reduce anti-social behaviour and reducing the risk of crime. Play facilities become a focal point for the community, families are better supported and young people are helped to prepare for adult life.
The pupils created a wonderful display to showcase their thoughts which was presented at the launch event. The pupil’s opinions are very important to us and will help shape the strategy.
Council would also like to hear everyone’s views on current play provision in the Borough, and are particularly keen to hear from younger residents. Interested parties can complete a short survey online here.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Translink Ulster in Bloom Award Winners

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, has hailed green-fingered residents after the Borough blossomed in the Translink Ulster in Bloom Awards.

The results of the competition officially recognised Northern Ireland’s top gardening talent, with a number of prestigious accolades awarded locally.
The 2016 Large Town category award went to Ballymena, the Small Town to Ahoghill and the Large Village award to Cullybackey, which also achieved the ‘Most Improved’ title.
The Best Community Rail Halt Award was bestowed on Whitehead Train Station. 
Meanwhile, Bill Pollock from ‘Brighter Whitehead’ was the winner of the Ulsterbus Tours Community Champion Award in recognition of the lasting and positive difference he has made to his local area by embracing the Ulster in Bloom ethos.
The Mayor said the impressive awards haul showed the Borough remains one of Northern Ireland’s best examples of floral expertise. “I am delighted and proud of the results of the competition. Translink Ulster in Bloom encourages cities, towns and villages right across Northern Ireland to look their best, boosting civic pride through beautiful plant and floral displays. Mid and East Antrim is renowned for its floral displays, which are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. These awards are recognition of the fantastic work of residents to ensure our Borough is a beautiful place to live, work and visit. They are also a tribute to all the hard work of Council’s Parks and Open Spaces staff.”
This was the 38th year of the annual horticultural competition which celebrates Northern Ireland’s top gardening talent and their beautiful plant and floral displays.
Translink Chairman Frank Hewitt said: “Congratulations to all the Translink Ulster in Bloom champions. As we approach the 40th anniversary year, it’s wonderful to see the competition’s continued appeal with 156 entries covering all 11 council areas. We look forward to welcoming all our champions back to defend their titles when we launch the 2017 competition during Bus and Train Week, 5 to 11 June.”
The Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition is organised by the Northern Ireland local Government Association (NILGA).
Alderman Freda Donnelly, Vice President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said: “For everyone involved, not just the winners, Translink Ulster in Bloom helps us all to focus on improving the quality of life for citizens right across the region, taking pride in the places where we live and work, and together, create a better environment for everyone to enjoy.”

Friday, 12 May 2017

Pioneering CES project at Ecos Nature Park

Ecos Nature Park, Ballymena is the first public Constant Effort Site (CES) in Northern Ireland. The programme began on Monday 8 May 2017 and 11 more morning sessions will be spaced out across the summer. The bird ringing mornings are led by BTO licensed ringer and trainer Aidan Crean and will run from 8am to 12.30pm.

The Constant Effort Sites (CES) scheme is the first national standardised ringing programme within the BTO Ringing Scheme and has been running successfully since 1983.  Ringers operate the same mist nets in the same locations over the same time period at regular intervals through the breeding season at over 130 sites throughout Britain and Ireland. The results from the project provides valuable local site species knowledge plus builds a trend of information on abundance of adults and juveniles, productivity and also adult survival rates for 24 species of common songbird.

This programme is a great opportunity to see and appreciate all the small resident and migrant birds of Ecos Nature Park at close quarters and learn how and why we catch, ring and study wild birds.

Everyone is welcome along, there is no experience required. 

To find out when the next sessions are occurring, add your details to our CES mailing list via biodiversity@midandeastantrim.gov.uk

Thursday, 11 May 2017

2017 Mid and East Antrim in Bloom campaign officially launched

The 2017 campaign and community competitions were officially launched to coincide with Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) National Gardening Week.

The launch took place The People’s Park, Ballymena, on Friday 7 April and guests were invited to take part in a range of ‘in bloom’ activities.
Speaking at the event, Cllr Wales said: “Mid and East Antrim in Bloom is your opportunity to make your Borough bloom once again! Everyone can do their bit by filling a hanging basket, planting a tree or just keeping your garden tidy - there is something for everyone to do to ensure our Borough looks its best."
The Mid and East Antrim in Bloom community competitions are a great chance for people to be recognised for their gardening skills. Applications are welcome from all residents of the Borough and entry is free of charge. Why not consider nominating a neighbour’s garden and other properties that you think are attractive and deserve recognition?
There are 10 community competitions with great prizes available for winners and runners up in each. General categories include Best Kept Front Garden, Best Kept Allotment Garden, Best Kept Commercial Premises, Best Kept Community Planting Scheme and the Gardening for Wildlife Award.
There are four competitions specifically for our young horticulturalists too; Painting Competition, Poetry Competition, Best School Gardening Project and, of course, the hotly contested Tallest Sunflower Competition.
To get involved click here

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Borough Buzzing with launch of Bee-licious initiative

Councillor Audrey Wales, MBE, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough has officially launched the ‘Bee-licious’ programme, which is generously funded by the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Our Heritage Programme’ and has resulted in Mid and East Antrim working with seven other Councils across Northern Ireland to raise awareness on our important pollinator species.
Our pollinators, which include bees, butterfly and beetles, are in decline so the aim is to improve habitats for them across the country and to increase awareness of pollinator species and their key role within the ecology.
The Bee-licious project will run until April 2019 to focus on restoring nectar rich habitats by running training workshops and themed events to engage participants.
To find out more about how to get the Borough really buzzing, everyone is invited to any of the three events, in venues in Ballymena, Carrickfergus and near Larne.
  • BEE-LICIOUS – BIG BEE BANK                    Saturday 22 April, 11am-1pm
    Through Bee-licious we are raising awareness on pollinator species and helping restore and create habitats. Help build a Big Bee Bank at Ecos.        
    Ecos Park, Kernohans Lane, Broughshane Road, Ballymena BT43 7QA
  • BEE-LICIOUS – BIG BEE HOTEL                 Saturday 13 May, 10am - 1pm
    Through Bee-licious we are raising awareness on our pollinator species and helping to restore and create habitats for them. Help us build a Big Bee Hotel at Bashfordsland Wood. Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen,
    Red Fort Park, Off Marshallstown Road, Carrickfergus BT38 9TH
  • BEE-LICIOUS – BIG BEE HOTEL                 Saturday 27 May, 10am – 1pm
    Through Bee-licious we are raising awareness on our pollinator species and helping to restore and create habitats for them. Help us build a Big Bee Hotel at this fun, family event. Meeting at the visitor centre.
    Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne Coast Rd, Ballygalley, Larne BT40 2QZ

Be A Saint Day 2017

Volunteers from the business world have been ‘saints’ by helping to improve the environment for the Borough’s community and wildlife, as well as building-up their own skills.
Liberty IT at Diamond Jubilee Wood
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, has commended volunteers who came out in support of the innovative ‘Be a Saint Day’, a Business in the Community initiative which takes place each year on the 16 March.
Cllr Wales said: “Be a Saint Day’ is a Business in the Community initiative, in partnership with Volunteer Now and sponsored by food retailer, Spar, and is an annual day of volunteering which encourages employers to release their employees for a day to get involved in practical tasks.
“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has wholeheartedly supported the initiative for the last number of years. This year, we had a great number of hardworking volunteers out in our green spaces across the Borough, and I would personally like to thank them for their time and efforts,” she said.
Volunteers from software company Liberty IT carried out essential tree maintenance in Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead and volunteers from Belfast Harbour, Larne Harbour, software company Micro Focus and IT support service Fujitsu helped out with hedge repair and invasive species removal at Carnfunnock Country Park, Ballygally.
Kieran Harding, Managing Director of Business in the Community NI, said that volunteering is a powerful tool: “It builds dialogue and relationships between groups of people and organisations who might otherwise not have the opportunity to engage in a community.
“It offers genuine mutual benefit - the experience builds skills and motivates employees, while helping to make a positive contribution to community needs.
“It is all about celebrating what can be achieved in communities through the power of volunteers – but it’s more than just a day and we urge businesses that take part to use it as a springboard into deeper long-term engagement in communities across Northern Ireland, all year round,” he said.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Forest School programme continues in Mid & East Antrim

St Johns Primary School have begun their Forest Schools programme at Cranny Falls Nature Reserve, Carnlough. Cranny Falls includes a beautiful waterfall in a wooded valley, a disused limestone quarry, cliffs, wetlands and grasslands. Pupils have been learning how to identify different trees, how to build shelters and how to create homes for insects and the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim recently visited to see how they were getting on.

 For more information on the Forest School programme please click here.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Calling All Crafters!

Are you a keen knitter? Are you crafty and creative? If so, you may like to get involved in our Woollen Woods project.

Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead is the only Woollen Wood in Ireland! The Woollen Woods project, in partnership with Lighthouse Yarns, has been running since 2015 with hundreds of woodland-themed artworks, created by schools, knitting groups and individuals, installed in the wood each year and celebrated with a Grand Opening and fun day on site. We always welcome donations and your creation will be displayed in the woods for our 2017 Grand Opening and fun day on Saturday 24 June, 1pm – 4pm.

 The theme this year is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but any woodland themed creations are welcome.

Please send your crafty contributions to:
Woollen Woods
Lighthouse Yarns
Edward Road
BT38 9PT

You can also visit https://en-gb.facebook.com/lighthouseyarns/ to find free patterns.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Live Here Love Here Litter Heroes

Thursday 16 February was a night of celebration as Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful held their first ever Live Here Love Here Community Awards. The event, hosted by Lesser Spotted Ulster star Joe Mahon, was filled with inspirational tales from volunteers who have and continue to instil pride in our local communities through practical environmental action. The Mid and East Antrim Litter Heroes Award was won by the Whitehead Wombles, who work tirelessly to keep Whitehead litter free, and  honorary mentions went to Elena Cully from Islandmagee and Trevor Dunlop from Connect Ministries, Ballymena. To find out more and to get involved visit www.liveherelovehere.org 

Well done to all!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Ballymena and Cullybackey Britain in Bloom Bound

Ballymena and Cullybackey have been selected to compete in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals 2017. Now in its 53rd year, Britain in Bloom has evolved into a UK-wide campaign that brings communities together while promoting the environmental and health and wellbeing benefits of gardening. Ballymena and Cullybackey will join 77 other Britain in Bloom finalists competing to be crowned one of the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful places in the UK.  Ballymena will be judged in the Large Town category. Cullybackey will be judged in the Large Village category. RHS Britain in Bloom judges will visit in August and the winners will be announced at the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Llandudno, North Wales on 27 October.

Congratulations and good luck to all involved!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Forest Schools in Mid and East Antrim

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is committed to promoting our parks and open spaces as important educational and recreational resources and Forest Schools is a great way to achieve this. The number of Forest Schools in Northern Ireland is increasing and we are proud to be at the forefront of this initiative. 

This year, all the schools in the Borough had the opportunity to take part in the Forest School programme via the Forest School Awards. Three schools have now been selected to take part in the 2017 Forest Schools programme. 

Carrickfergus Central Primary School have chosen Shaftesbury Park as their site. Shaftesbury Park is a charming Victorian park in Carrickfergus town centre with plenty of mature tree specimens and is connected to Carrickfergus Mill Ponds Nature Reserve which is home to a wide range of wildlife.

Kirkinriola Primary School have chosen Ecos Nature Park as their site. Ecos Nature Park is an oasis of wildlife close to the heart of Ballymena town centre. The site is 220 acres of parkland, maturing woodland, peaceful lake, ponds, and meadows.

St Johns Primary School have chosen Cranny Falls Nature Reserve, Carnlough as their site. Cranny Falls includes a beautiful waterfall in a wooded valley and a disused limestone quarry, where there are cliffs, wetlands and grasslands.

Friday, 10 February 2017

‘Friends of' nature flock in across the Borough

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, has revealed how pleased she is at the volume of volunteers attending at the various ‘Friends of’ meetings this year. Cllr Wales said: “We have had a fantastic turn out at our Friends Of meetings which have been running each Saturday in January.

“Our Friends Of groups are now running at Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen Carrickfergus, Ecos Nature Park Ballymena, Town Parks Larne and Carnfunnock Country Park,” she said.
Already in 2017, Mid and East Antrim’s ‘Friends Of’ volunteers have helped with bird ringing at Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen, willow coppicing at Ecos Nature Park, creating a wildlife pond at Town Parks Larne and removing snowberry, an invasive species, from Carnfunnock. Throughout the year, volunteers will continue to help with a wide range of practical tasks such as nest box building, tree planting, river cleans, invasive species removal and wildflower planting.
Our ‘Friends Of’ groups are a great opportunity to get outside in the fresh air, meet likeminded people and learn new skills, all the while protecting and improving your local green space. Volunteering can help participants to gain confidence and self-esteem and can also have health benefits as you are being active outdoors. Volunteering provides huge opportunities to enhance your CV to impress future employers or help with university applications. And of course, it can be great fun!
Upcoming Friends of meetings: Friends of Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen, Saturday 11 February, meeting at Oakfield Community Centre; Friends of Ecos Nature Park, Saturday 18 February, meeting at Outdoor Education Centre; Friends of Town Park Larne Saturday 18 February, meeting at Bankhead’s Lane and Friends of Carnfunnock, Saturday 25 February, meeting at visitor centre