Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Big Community Plant Out in Ahoghill

Alderman Stewart McDonald officially launched National Tree Week 2017 by planting the first tree of the season at Ahoghill New Park.
Ald McDonald said “I was delighted to plant the first tree at Ahoghill New Park. There was a great turn out on the day and participants planted 220 native trees, such as hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel, as well as building Bee-licious bee hotels and bird boxes and enjoying hedgerow food and drink.”
“The community is very much looking forward to the development of this exciting new space and are keen to be involved along the way. I hope this site will flourish and provide a valuable resource for the community and local wildlife for many years.”
James Perry, Ahoghill in Bloom said “What a great turnout from groups and organisations right across the community, from local schools, the Young Famers Club, Ahoghill Patchwork Group, footballers, school children and our own Ahoghill in Bloom volunteers. The trees planted will become a free food resource for everyone in the community to harvest and enjoy. They will also add to the biodiversity of the area. We are very much looking forward to the next ‘plant out’ - one of best events we have had in the village!”
National Tree Week is the UK’s largest celebration of trees and the start of the winter tree planting season. As part of Tree Week celebrations, there are a range of free activities across Mid and East Antrim including coppicing and countryside crafts workshops, hedgelaying and wreath making. Staff will also be out planting hundreds of trees with school children and community groups.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Reid, concluded “Tree Week marks the beginning of the tree planting season which runs right through to February. I encourage citizens to celebrate trees at one of our free events, or simply get outdoors and enjoy the tremendous trees we already have in the Parks & Open Spaces in Mid and East Antrim Borough.”

“Citizens can also consider planting your own tree. Anyone can make a difference to their view and to biodiversity by adding a tree. Planting a tree is a very positive thing to do and is great fun, even in the depths of winter. There are plenty of reasons to get planting – it’s great exercise, children love it, and you’ll be making a valuable contribution to our local wildlife. Every tree counts.”

Monday, 6 November 2017

Success at RHS Britain in Bloom awards

This year Mid and East Antrim had two entries in the finals of the RHS Britain in Bloom competition. Ballymena competed in the large town category and Cullybackey in the large village category. A delegation of Council and community representatives and attended the awards ceremony on Friday 27 October in Llandudno, North Wales.

The Mayor was delighted to accept a Silver Gilt award on behalf of Ballymena, along with PJ McAvoy from Ballymena BID, and accept a Silver Gilt award on behalf of Cullybackey along with Bertie McNeilly from the Cullybackey Community Partnership. Ballymena was also nominated for the RHS Special Award for Conservation and Wildlife - a great achievement.

The RHS judges were very encouraging and offered a great deal of positive feedback regarding both entries.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Mid and East Antrim is blooming

The winners and runners-up in the Mid and East Antrim in Bloom Community Competitions were celebrated at an awards ceremony in Raceview Mill, Broughshane, on Thursday 19 October.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Councillor Paul Reid, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, said: “Our Mid and East Antrim ‘In Bloom’ Community Competitions are an important part of our Britain in Bloom and Ulster in Bloom entries.
“Mid and East Antrim in Bloom is a beacon of community gardening good practice, it encourages people to get involved, builds community spirit and improves the environment we all live in. With initiatives across the Borough such as Tree Week and our ‘Friends of’ volunteer groups, opportunities are also created for health, wellbeing and learning.
“The ‘in Bloom’ competitions are a great way to celebrate the hard work put in by local people throughout the year to make our Borough a more beautiful and biodiverse place to live.
“I am pleased to say the Mid and East Antrim in Bloom Community Competitions have really caught the imagination of our citizens and we have once again had a fantastic response to the awards from all across the Borough.
“I was very impressed by the number of high-quality entries. The time and dedication of entrants is extraordinary and a credit to all involved. Everyone who took part should be very proud of their achievements. I would like to thank everyone, our residents, local businesses, schools and community groups who continue to support our ‘in Bloom’ campaign.”
For more information please visit 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Coast Care Heroes celebrated

Mid and East Antrim’s Local Heroes received special recognition from Live Here Love Here and Coca-Cola HBC at the 10th Anniversary of the Coca-Cola Coast Care Awards, held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The event, hosted by broadcaster Barra Best, praised and rewarded the efforts of volunteers who have gone the extra mile to clean up and look after our coastline and inland waterways, in a bid to preserve the natural beauty of these areas.
Ulidia Integrated College Eco Team in Carrickfergus jointly won the award for Brighter Futures.

Nicholas Davis from Larne Renovation Generation received an Honorary Mention in the Local Hero category. Larne Renovation Generation was also given an Honorary Mention in the Coca Cola Coast Care Group category and the Friends of Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen received an Honorary Mention in the Inland Waterway Group category. 

Well done all! 

Friday, 3 November 2017

Best Kept Success

Ahoghill has clinched the top prize in the 60th anniversary year of the Northern Ireland Best Kept City, Town and Village Awards.

 The village won the much-coveted ‘Best of the Best’ title at the awards ceremony, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport, in Belfast City Hall, with judges citing the evident enthusiasm of residents and traders working in tandem as a key factor in the success.   

Ahoghill won the ‘Large Village’ category for the second year in a row, but went a step further this year to claim a first ‘overall’ accolade thanks to impressive special features such as the Community Garden and site of the Old Creamery.
Cullybackey was also highly commended at the prestigious awards event, taking runner-up spot in the ‘Large Village’ category behind its neighbour.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Eden Playing Fields protected via Fields In Trust

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has safeguarded Eden playing fields, Carrickfergus, as a Queen Elizabeth II field.

Fields in Trust provide legal protection for playing fields, play space, recreation grounds, nature reserves and other open spaces. They currently protect over 2,500 public recreational spaces.
Unveiling the new plaque, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor Paul Reid, said “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of the Borough through the services it provides.
“Our Parks & Open Spaces service provide a multitude of opportunities to improve our environment, take part in recreational activities and learn from our history through educational events.”
“The Fields and Trust initiative has been fully embraced by Council as part of our commitment to protecting the playing field from future development. We want to celebrate the ongoing community use of these recreational sites and it is reassuring that we are permanently safeguarding Eden playing fields and other sites in the Borough through the Fields in Trust programme.”
Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said "We are delighted that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has shown how much it values Eden playing fields by protecting the site forever with Fields in Trust.
“Community green spaces, such as this, play a vital role in maintaining a high quality of life and contribute to the physical health and mental wellbeing of the people that use them."
There are currently five other Fields in Trust sites across Mid & East Antrim, Bentra Golf Course and Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood, Slaughterford Road, Inver Gardens Memorial Park, King George V Park and Sandy Bay Playing Fields in Larne.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

A blooming great result for Mid & East Antrim at Ulster in Bloom awards announcement

 The results of the 2017 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition were announced on September 21 officially recognising Northern Ireland’s top gardening talent. 

The annual horticultural competition encourages cities, towns and villages right across Northern Ireland to look their best, boosting civic pride through beautiful plant and floral displays. Now in its 39th year, all 11 local councils participated in the 2017 competition which attracted 160 entries.

Speaking after the results announcement Deputy Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Cllr Cheryl Johnston, said she is delighted that Mid and East Antrim has once again bloomed scooping twelve awards in total, and winning in four categories.

Cllr Johnston said “Whitehead won the Community Rail Halt Award, with Greenisland coming third in this category. Carrickfergus Station came joint second in the Best Station Award category, sharing second place with Derry-Londonderry.”

“Glenarm and Gracehill came joint third in the Village Category, Cullybackey placed third in the Large Village category, and Ahoghill came second in the Small Town category. Larne placed second in the Town category, and our Borough did particularly well in the Large Town Award category with Carrickfergus coming a close second to Ballymena who won the category.”

“I am also pleased to announce that Carrickfergus won the Special Award for Biodiversity, in recognition of efforts to support biodiversity, and Ballymena won the Roses in Towns Award, thanks to the blooming rose displays around the town.”

Cllr Johnston concluded “I am absolutely thrilled with these results as Mid and East Antrim continues to bloom. Congratulations to all the community groups and volunteers who have put in so much effort and to our hard working Parks & Open Spaces staff who support the ‘Ulster in Bloom’ campaign 365 days a year.”

“I would also like to mention John Hood who was shortlisted for the Ulster Bus Community Champion Award for his longstanding contribution to Ahoghill in Bloom. Although John did not win on this occasion it is great to see volunteer’s efforts recognised and John is still a community champion to us!”

Speaking at the results announcement ceremony, Translink Chairman, Frank Hewitt, said “Congratulations to all the 2017 Translink Ulster in Bloom winners and runners-up! It’s been a highly competitive year with such an impressive standard of entries and we’ve seen a number of new locations reach the top spots. We’d like to thank all the local councils, businesses and community groups who invest their time, effort and expertise throughout the year to make their area a more attractive place to live and visit.
Alderman Freda Donnelly, Vice President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said: “As Vice President of NILGA, it is my pleasure to convey the Association’s admiration, encouragement and congratulations to everyone who has participated and contributed to the 2017 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition.  The competition celebrates the successes that can be achieved when councils, “Bloom” committees, residents and businesses, come together to take pride in the places where they live and work, creating a better environment for everyone to live in and share. 

“With the ongoing partnership support of the councils and our sponsors Translink, NILGA is committed to building on the culture of the competition and growing it into the future, harnessing the opportunities provided through council community planning powers.  People in local places can really influence local decisions, which is great for democracy and great for Northern Ireland.”

The Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition is co-ordinated by the Northern Ireland local Government Association (NILGA). 

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Tallest Sunflowers in the Borough

The Borough’s tallest sunflower competition winners have been announced.
In first place with a magnificent height of 3m 20cms is the Ahoghill Community Rainbows. Runners-up are Charlotte (11), Jessica (9) and Lucy Bell (7) from Kells with a mighty 3m 5cm sunflower and Cullybackey’s Amy McAlister (12) with a blooming 2m 98cm tall sunflower.
In April Mid and East Antrim Borough Council distributed 5000 packets of free sunflower seed to schools across the Borough to get children growing as part of the MEA In Bloom initiative.

Full list of winners and runners up can be found at 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Community is blooming in Mid & East Antrim

The winners and runners-up in the Mid and East Antrim In Bloom general categories - Best Kept Front Garden, Best Kept Front Container Garden, Kept Community Planting Scheme, Best Kept Allotment Garden, Best Kept Commercial Premises, and the Gardening for Wildlife Award – were announced on 24 August.

Our In Bloom competitions showcase the best of our Borough, from front gardens to allotments, local businesses and community groups, all working to enhance our towns and villages. There is also the Gardening for Wildlife Award which celebrates those doing their bit for biodiversity.

The quality and diversity of the entries to the competition this year were extremely high. Well done to everyone.

The winners and runners up, listed below, will be invited to the Mid & East Antrim in Bloom awards ceremony in October.

Best Kept Front Garden
Winner:  Elizabeth Boyd, Cullybackey
Runner-Up: John O’Neill, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Janet Wilson, Ballymena

Best Kept Front Container Garden
Winner: Eric Bailey, Islandmagee
Runner-Up: Josie Adams, Whitehead
Runner-Up: Alex Foye, Larne

Best Kept Community Planting Scheme
Winner: Windsor Community Garden, Whitehead
Runner-Up: Ballygally Biodiversity Group
Runner-Up: Lizzies Flower Bed, Glenarm

Best Kept Allotment Garden
Winner: Adrian Johnston, Greenisland Allotment Gardens
Runner-Up: Stephen Hanna, Eden Allotment Gardens
Runner-Up: Alfie Hamilton, Larne Allotment Gardens

Best Kept Commercial Premises
Winner: The Nest, Broughshane
Runner-Up: The Smithfield Arms, Ballymena
Runner-Up: Martha & Mary’s Vintage Tea Room, Ahoghill

Gardening for Wildlife Award
Winner: Julie Hayes, Ballymena
Runner-Up: Cullybackey Community Partnership
Runner-Up: Charles Sheils Charity, Carrickfergus

Well done everyone!

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

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.”