Carrickfergus in Bloom News

Ulster in Bloom Awards for Whitehead (17 September 2014)

Whitehead had received two awards at Ulster in Bloom today in Londonderry. 2nd place in the Small Town Category
and winner in the Community Rail Halt catergory for Whitehead Rail Station.

Britain in Bloom Judges to visit Borough (4th August 2014)

Independent judges from Britain in Bloom and appointed by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are set to visit Carrickfergus and Whitehead to assess the town’s entry into this year’s prestigious Britain in Bloom competition. On Monday 4th August, judges Jon Wheatley and Darren Share will visit Carrickfergus and on Friday 8th August judges Mark Wasilewski and Brendan Mowforth will visit Whitehead.

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee said: “We are really looking forward to meeting the judges when they visit our Borough next Monday and Friday – it’s always so useful when they give us advice on ways we can improve our public spaces even more. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who help keep our borough tidy and beautiful.”

The imminent judging is the culmination of many months of hard work. There is a keen sense of anticipation before their visits, as Britain in Bloom is one of Europe’s premier horticultural award schemes. The judges will be assessing our entries on three established criteria:

Alderman Beattie added “Our Borough is renowned for its floral displays which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, and play a critical role in bringing people and investment to the town. However, it’s important to say that issues such as cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement are equally as important.”

Alderman Beattie explained “Carrickfergus and Whitehead were selected from more than 1,000 entrants to take part in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals 2014, as the campaign celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Carrickfergus and Whitehead will be representing Northern Ireland in two of the twelve categories.

Ulster in Bloom nominated Carrickfergus and Whitehead to the national finals of the competition following the regional stage of judging in 2013. Both Carrickfergus and Whitehead were selected for engaging every element of the community, for demonstrating an exceptional commitment to helping the environment and for horticultural excellence. Carrickfergus will be joining Belper, Colwyn Bay, Congleton, Farnham, Malvern, Perth, Truro, Wisbech, Alton and Durham in the Large Town category. Whitehead will be joining Cranbrook, Dunnington, Pitlochry and Sedgefield in the Small Town category.

“The Britain in Bloom judges are highly-qualified horticulturalists and will be accompanied by Alderman May Beattie, and staff from Carrickfergus Borough Council’s Parks and Countryside Service in a Hyundai jeep supplied by Carrickfergus based Cannon Motors.” Ended Alderman Beattie

Stephanie Eynon, RHS Community Horticulture Manager, said: “This is a really special year to be an RHS Britain in Bloom finalist because it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the campaign. We would like to congratulate every group for reaching the finals of RHS Britain in Bloom but of course it’s not about beating fellow finalists, it’s about volunteers of all ages and walks of life gaining recognition for their extraordinary efforts to improve streets and neighbourhoods in towns, villages and cities across Britain. The awards are our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ and may I wish both Carrickfergus and Whitehead as well as every finalist the very best of luck in this golden anniversary year.”

The winners and runners-up will be announced at a national awards ceremony in Bristol on 16th October 2014.

Biodiversity Summer School in Diamond Jubilee Wood (4 August 2014 2014)

Carrickfergus Borough Council will be hosting a Biodiversity Summer School from Monday 4th to Friday 8th August 2014 – every morning from 11am to 1pm at Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead. The aim is to inspire and galvanize Borough residents to discover more about the incredible species and habitats on their doorstep.

The Biodiversity Summer School is a free outdoor event across five days and gives families the opportunity to take part in fun biodiversity projects such as pond dipping, mini-beast hunts and bird box building. Learn about the natural world through a variety of activities and games. There is no need to book - just turn up to take part whatever your age. We will be meeting every morning at 11am at Bentra Car Park (Slaughterford Road, Whitehead).

This is the second year of the Biodiversity Summer School (see enclosed photo from last year) which is part of a wider environmental campaign headed by the BBC called the ‘Summer of Wildlife’. Which has a clear purpose to showcase and celebrate the UK's unique and extraordinary flora and fauna.

The Biodiversity Summer School is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our local wildlife at Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead. Although the wood only opened in 2012, the 60 acre site which is the Borough’s newest public park, is already a haven for wildlife and an excellent opportunity to celebrate the local biodiversity we have on our doorstep.

Event Details:

Day 1 (Monday 4th August): Natural Art: Come along on a guided tour of the woodland and collect natural materials to make your own unique piece of art! Leaves, twigs, petals and grasses can be bound together or pressed onto paper to make a wonderful picture or creative piece of jewellery to take home.

Day 2. (Tuesday 5th August): Come Dine with Me: Help feed our feathered friends by making lots of tasty cakes and treats from raw ingredients. Using natural and recycled materials these treats can be left in the nature reserve or taken home and will completely biodegrade. Learn how to reuse household waste to create simple feeders for taking home and learn the importance of feeding birds especially through the winter season.

Day 3. (Wednesday 6th August): Pond Life: What's living in the water in the woodland? From quick- flying insects on the surface to wriggly fish in the water, catch and bottle a variety of minibeasts for a closer look at the secretive and mysterious world of the pond. Learn about the food chain of the pond, how they share the wettest part of the wood and what you can do to enhance their wild habitat.

Day 4. (Thursday 7th August): Build-a-Box: Do you want to attract more wildlife into your garden? Make your own habitat for wildlife to take home. Choose from bird or bat box or a mini-beast hostel, and use a range of hand tools to follow a set template. Learn how the importance of protecting our native birds and bat with instruction on where to place and how to monitor your bird and bat box.

Day 5. (Friday 8th August): Seed Bombing: Get your hands dirty for a great cause. Roll up your sleeves and make mud pies and dip them in lots of lovely native wildflower seeds. Join us for a walk around the woodland, find a bare patch of ground and then... throw your seed bomb where it will grow into a beautiful patch of wildflowers over the next few years. Bees will love you for giving them food!

For further information or for updates on the above information check the Council website www.carrickfergus.org or telephone 028 9335 8000.

Golden Year for Carrickfergus Borough in the RHS Britain in Bloom 2014 Finals. (31st January 2014)

Carrickfergus & Whitehead will represent Northern Ireland at the 50th Britain in Bloom finals. Carrickfergus and Whitehead have been selected from more than 1,000 entrants to take part in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals 2014, as the campaign celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Carrickfergus and Whitehead will be representing Northern Ireland in two of the twelve categories. Ulster in Bloom nominated Carrickfergus and Whitehead to the national finals of the competition following the regional stage of judging in 2013. Both Carrickfergus and Whitehead were selected for engaging every element of the community, for demonstrating an exceptional commitment to helping the environment and for horticultural excellence.

Carrickfergus will be joining Belper, Colwyn Bay, Congleton, Farnham, Malvern, Perth, Truro, Wisbech, Alton and Durham in the Large Town category. Whitehead will be joining Cranbrook, Dunnington, Pitlochry and Sedgefield in the Small Town category. During July and August, both Carrickfergus Borough towns will be visited by two RHS judges who will meet community representatives and go on a tour of local projects. As well as the usual bedding displays, judges will inspect everything from local recycling initiatives to areas of natural habitat and conservation. They will also be looking at the management of street furniture and public parks, and will be assessing how well the group is responding to climate change and budget limitations by giving awards for sustainable practices and inventive schemes to raise money to fund projects. Carrickfergus and Whitehead are both going for Gold and aim to win their categories. Results will be announced at an awards ceremony in Bristol in October and will be attended by representatives of all 74 finalists.

Mayor of Carrickfergus Borough, Alderman Billy Ashe said: “Last September, we were delighted with winning the accolades of five Ulster in Bloom awards, the most ever in any year since the inception of the competition. Building on this achievement, this year’s nominations to Britain in Bloom provide a great opportunity to represent Northern Ireland in these two prestigious categories. I look forward to seeing the beautiful displays that will not only enhance our Borough for our local residents, but have a vitally important role in bringing people and investment to the locality.”

Five Awards for Borough at Ulster in Bloom Awards (10th September 2013)

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

Mayor of Carrickfergus Borough, Alderman Billy Ashe, speaking following the announcements, is clearly delighted with the accolades: "Translink Ulster in Bloom is a magnificent opportunity for our Borough to enhance its surroundings and create beautiful displays that are enjoyed by everybody. Our Borough is renowned for its floral displays which are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. The Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative also plays a critical role in bringing people and investment to the town. However, it is important to say that issues such as cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement are equally as important. In the Borough, the 'In Bloom' initiative is much more than bedding plants and making the Borough look good for one day; instead it is a 365 day a year initiative. Carrickfergus Borough Council along with our partners have done a wonderful job in broadening the appeal of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative and by getting people to work together, we have made our Borough much better.”

According to Alderman May Beattie: “As Chairperson of the Parks and Countryside Sub Committee of Carrickfergus Borough Council, I am absolutely thrilled with the five awards achieved today. The wins are all very well-deserved and I am delighted that this tops the number of awards achieved to date in any given year of the competition. Our successes within Ulster in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses and local people throughout the Borough, as well as statutory bodies such as the Housing Executive and Department of Regional Development. I would like to personally thank all the staff at Carrickfergus Parks and Cleansing Sections whose hard work and imagination has been the backbone of our entry over the years and I congratulate everyone who took part this year."

Flowerbed to Mark Charity Milestone Unveiled (22nd July 2013)

Carrickfergus Borough Council have planted a beautiful floral display in celebration of local premature baby charity, TinyLife who are celebrating 25 years of supporting families of premature and vulnerable babies born in Northern Ireland. The flowerbed which is located on the Marine Highway near the historic Carrickfergus Castle was officially unveiled this afternoon by Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee who said, Carrickfergus Borough Council is delighted to highlight the good works of TinyLife and help them celebrate their 25 years anniversary.” TinyLife offers a range of vital family support services, including a hospital to home service, breast pump hire, Dad’s support group and a dedicated baby sensory room for babies with disabilities and to aid the mother baby bonding process at the Carryduff offices. The charity has supported a number of families in and around the Carrickfergus area and would like to extend their warmest thanks to Carrickfergus Borough Council, the Sub-Committee and Alderman May Beattie and the people of Carrickfergus Borough for their continued support.

Celebrating the Heritage of the Hedgerow (23rd February 2013)

hedgerow hopes event at diamond jubilee woodThe heritage of the hedgerow is being celebrated with a special hedgerow planting day on Saturday 23rd February 2013 from 10am to 1pm at Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood in County Antrim. This free fun event is part of the Hedgerow Hopes Project which is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (www.hlf.org.uk), ‘Your Heritage Programme.”

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee said “The aim of the Hedgerow Hopes Project is to engage with a wide range of people to restore and enhance species-rich hedgerows in the Borough for the benefit of our local heritage and biodiversity by delivering practical training workshops in foraging, hedgerow planting, maintenance and laying.”

“This event will concentrate on hedgerow planting and is an opportunity to find out what wildlife our native hedges support and why they are one of nature’s greatest assets. Species-rich hedgerows are important to us as well as to our wildlife. They are of historical importance often marking townland or estate boundaries. They also provide colour, shelter and food, act as stock barriers, and prevent soil erosion. Unfortunately, many of our native hedgerows have lost a lot of these benefits due to neglect or mismanagement. So, we’ve teamed up with Antrim, Belfast and Newtownabbey Councils to restore and enhance the hedgerows in our area. You can play your part too. We want people to get involved to help restore and manage these habitats. We’ll provide you with training to help you develop skills required to support the restoration programme. Over the next two years we will be organising a number of events and training workshops and I would encourage everyone to get involved in the Hedgerow Hopes Project. For further information contact the Council’s Parks & Countryside Service on 9335 8000 or email parks@carrickfergus.org.” ended Alderman Beattie.

You can access Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood via Bentra Golf Course car park. For further information on Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood visit the webpage www.carrickfergus.org/jubileewood. There you will find information on the location, facilities and how to join the Diamond Jubilee Wood Friends Group.

The HLF Your Heritage programme offers grants between £3,000 and £100,000 inclusive for projects that relate to the local, regional or national heritage of the UK. The Heritage Lottery Fund welcomes applications that help people to learn about, look after and celebrate heritage in a fun and enjoyable way. To receive a grant the project must: help people to learn about their own and other people’s heritage; conserve the UK’s diverse heritage for present and future generations to experience and enjoy and/or help more people, and a wider range of people, to take an active part in and make decisions about heritage. Details of the programme can be found at www.hlf.org.uk or phone 028 9031 0120 email: northernireland@hlf.org.uk

Launch of Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough (23rd November 2012)

tree week in whiteheadAlderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee launched National Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough at Whitehead Primary School on Friday 23rd November 2012. The launch will highlight the TREEmendous achievements since the year 2000, in which Carrickfergus Borough Council has planted 160,000 trees and by the end of this tree planting season we will have planted a further 5,000 trees around the Borough.

Alderman Beattie said “Now more than ever has confirmed the need to plant more trees. Recent events have confirmed that the view across the countryside and in our towns is set to change faster than anyone could have expected. In recent years, pests and diseases have started to threaten some of our most loved trees, such as oak and horse chestnut, but the spread of ash dieback and the anticipated devastation of the UK population of ash trees has left everyone considering what the next steps should be.”

“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 community woodland. To take part in a tree planting event or for further information contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. t: 93358039 or e: parks@carrickfergus.org”. ended Alderman Beattie

“Anyone with land of their own, whether a garden, woodland or field, can make a difference to their view by adding a tree”, said Pauline Buchanan Black, Director-General of The Tree Council. “This year, though, the campaign carries particular significance as we look for ways to minimise the impact of ash dieback and carefully consider what to plant. Rising concern about tree diseases has also reminded us of the importance of checking not only where the seed of their tree started life, but also where it was germinated and grown. Not since Plant A Tree in ’73 has there been the same urgency to safeguard a view for the future”.

Alasdair Douglas, Chair of The Tree Council, added “It is almost exactly 40 years since Secretary of State for the Environment Peter Walker stood up in the House of Commons and announced that the following year was to be designated National Tree Planting Year. This was the Government initiative to encourage the planting of new trees to replace those millions killed by Dutch Elm Disease. The Tree Council was formed from that initiative and has been running National Tree Week ever since. We couldn’t have foreseen that we’d be faced with the losses from a tree disease of similar epidemic proportions just as we go in to National Tree Week but this seems a timely moment to ask the public to think carefully about what will happen to their view and what they will do to restore it for future generations.”

Next Tree planting event: Tree Planting Day at Amphitheatre Mill Ponds on Thursday 29th November at 10am. For further information please visit www.carrickfergus.org/treeweek

For further information on this or future tree planting events please contact Stephen Daye on 9335 8000. More tree planting events will take place in January, February & March to keep in touch visit www.carrickfergus.org/treeweek.

“Blooming” Busy Pupils Help Local Traders! (13th November 2012)

downshire school pupilsDownshire School’s Year 11 and Year 12 Horticulture classes were busy this week preparing floral hanging baskets for traders to display in the centre of Carrickfergus. Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie who visited the blooming busy pupils said “The aim of the project, which has been funded by the Council’s Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative, is to brighten up the town centre this Christmas and use the horticultural talents of the Downshire School pupils.”

“Downshire pupils were a natural choice to create the floral displays due to the delivery of the subject of Horticulture which has had enormous examination success; and the interest in the Gardening Club which runs at lunch time and after school. Such examinations and clubs promote vocational opportunities for the young people and certainly their work on the planters for the Council has let them see a possible horticultural career path.”

“Carrickfergus in Bloom is a beacon of community gardening good practice, as it encourages residents to get involved, builds community spirit and improves the environment we all live in. With initiatives such as the school growing clubs, real opportunities for health, wellbeing and learning are being created.”

Principal Mrs Stewart commented on how pleased she was that the school had been given the opportunity to engage in such a civic venture and noted that the pupils now would be able to see their work on public display and would therefore take an even greater pride in their contribution to the local community. Everyone looks forward to seeing the lovely baskets adding a splash of colour to the newly refurbished town centre in the run up to Christmas.

Teachers Mrs Pauline Cowan (Downshire School) and Mr Robert Simpson (Newtownabbey Regional College) observed that doing work like this adds an extra dimension to the pupil’s experience of school and certainly provides added value to their educational experience.

Robert Stewart from Carrickfergus Traders Association thanked the school on behalf of the town centre shops benefiting from the floral displays this Christmas. He added “The Traders Association has been working in partnership with Carrickfergus Regeneration Partnership to roll out a floral scheme initiative. It is hoped that further work including community gardens within the town centre will compliment the completed public realm improvement scheme and that this will be an opportunity for more schools across the Borough to be involved”.

Rose Award Success for Borough (13th September 2012)

roses in carrickfergusCarrickfergus has been award the Translink Ulster in Bloom – Roses in Towns Trophy for 2012 at an award ceremony at Belfast Castle today. The Roses in Towns Trophy, is presented annually to the Council area with the best display of roses. The Borough also received the Best Station Award for Carrickfergus Rail & Bus Station and Best Community Rail Halt Award for Whitehead Rail Station.

Alderman May Beattie said "The three awards received today is recognition of the horticultural talent we have within the borough. Translink Ulster in Bloom is a great opportunity for our Borough to enhance its surroundings and create beautiful displays that are enjoyed by everybody. Our Borough is renowned for its floral displays which are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. The Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative also plays a critical role in bringing people and investment to the town. However, it's important to say that issues such as cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement are equally as important.

In the Borough, the 'In Bloom' initiative is much more than bedding plants and making the Borough look good for one day; instead it is a 365 day initiative. Carrickfergus Borough Council along with our partners have done a wonderful job in broadening the appeal of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative, by getting people to work together we have made our Borough better. Our successes within Ulster in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local people, community groups, businesses and other statuary bodies. I would like to thank the Council’s Parks and Cleansing staff whose hard work and imagination has been the backbone of our entries over many years and I congratulate everyone who took part this year." Ended Alderman May Beattie

Tallest Sunflower Competition (19th August 2012)

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee is asking the Borough’s young gardening enthusiasts who have not filled in their application to do so before 4th September. Alderman Beattie said "Carrickfergus Borough Council in April handed out thousands of sunflower seeds to Carrickfergus Borough primary and secondary school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. We also distributed application forms with the seed packs and have been amazed by the number of applications and photos received to date, the competition really catches the imagination of our young people. Last year's winner Joel McKimm from Carrickfergus grew a massive sunflower over 3 meters in height and we hope to have similar sizes this year despite the poor summer weather and recent stormy weather "

"Applicants for the Tallest Sunflower Competition are requested to measure their sunflower during the last week of August using a metric tape measure and complete the application form. Additional application forms are available from the Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre, Local Newspapers or from the Carrickfergus in Bloom website: www.carrickfergusinbloom.org. Due to the bank holiday Tuesday 4th September is the last day applications will be accepted and not 1st September as recently advertised in press advertisements and on promotional leaflets. The Carrickfergus in Bloom Children's Community Competitions have a total prize fund of £350. Other competitions include Poetry & Painting; entries for these competitions must be received by 30th September. Everybody who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus is invited to take part in Carrickfergus in Bloom as there is something for everyone. By entering you not only brighten up your own house but you also aid our Borough's entry to the Ulster in Bloom competition." ended Alderman Beattie. The winners and runner-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes.

Whitehead Community Clean-Up (1st April 2012)

A Whitehead Community Clean-Up will take place on Sunday 1st April 2pm – 4pm. Meeting at Presbyterian Church Halls. Refreshments provided afterwards. This is a chance for everyone in the community to come together to give the town a good clean for the Easter holidays. We will be working with Brighter Whitehead on flower beds and path clearance as well as helping the Whitehead Wombles litter-pick the town, the shorefront and the roads leading into and out of the town. Bags, gloves, pickers and bibs will be provided but if you could bring a brush or a shovel that would help. Also bring strong gloves if you have them. If you or your organisation would like to take part, contact Noel McKee on 07825 147927 for details or just come along at 2pm on Sunday 1st April. Get involved and make a difference.

Whitehead Diamond Begins to Sparkle (25th February 2012)

sammy wilson at whitehead jubilee woodThe ‘Diamond Wood’ at Whitehead is glowing with life thanks to the hard work of nature lovers from throughout Northern Ireland. School children, local people and visitors transformed the landscape by planting thousands of trees during a week-long series of events in celebration of the Queen’s historic Diamond Jubilee. Whitehead's new wood is the result of a partnership between the Woodland Trust and proud owner Carrickfergus Borough Council; and is one of 60 Diamond Woods springing to life across the UK as part of the Trust's ambitious Jubilee Woods project. The Northern Ireland gem will be home to 60,000 native saplings, mostly oak and ash. In addition, a majestic tree-lined avenue already has pride of place: 54 copper beech trees represent the 54 countries within the Commonwealth and extend a warm leafy welcome to all. The 'Commonwealth Tree Avenue' was planted by the Housing Executive's Housing Community Network as part of its work to promote good race relations across Northern Ireland. Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, said: "We're extremely grateful to Carrickfergus Borough Council for making this land available. And we're heartened by the enthusiasm of the children and adults who rolled their sleeves up to get the tree planting underway. It's a wonderful way to mark the Queen's 60-year reign, while making a meaningful contribution to the environment." The Mayor of Carrickfergus Borough Council, Alderman Jim McClurg, added: "Thanks to collective efforts we have the beginning of a fantastic natural resource. This new woodland will provide a much-needed habitat for wildlife and will be a lasting legacy for future generations. We hope that everyone - local people and visitors from further afield - will take time to explore and enjoy this quiet corner of nature."

Launch of Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough (25th November 2011)

tree week at Silverstream Primary SchoolAlderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee launched National Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough on Friday 25th November 2011. The launch at Silverstream Primary School will highlight our TREEmendous achievements since the year 2000, in which Carrickfergus Borough Council has planted 100,000 trees and by the end of this tree planting season we will have planted a further 60,000 trees at Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood.

Alderman Beattie said "The 37th annual National Tree Week will run from 26th November to 4th December 2011 and launches the winter tree-planting season. Every year millions of trees are planted across the UK as part of the initiative. Tree Week started in 1975 and this year in Carrickfergus Borough we will be playing our part by planting more trees that ever."

"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 community woodland. To take part in a tree planting event or for further information contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. t: 93358039 or e: parks@carrickfergus.org". ended Alderman Beattie

Pauline Buchanan-Black, Director-General of the Tree Council said "A tree planted close to where you live, work or study is good for you and for the nation's condition; trees have been proven to have positive effects on mental health and as an antidote to stressful lifestyles, even aiding recuperation from illness. However, to be able to look out on a tree simply lifts my soul and gladdens my heart. That, at bottom, seems to me to be one of the most compelling reasons to argue that everyone should be able to see a tree from their window - and if you can't, then now is the time to set about changing the view. Every tree matters as much for the beauty, growth and renewal, whether in urban or rural settings, that it demonstrates year on year as for the very practical benefits it brings."

Council Volunteers Help Stem the Tide of Rubbish (16th September 2011)

beach clean in carrickfergusCarrickfergus Borough Council staff and their families volunteered to help the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) fight marine litter by kick starting the Beachwatch Big Weekend on the Marine Highway Shoreline.  Volunteers cleaned the beach of its litter and completed surveys, which will be sent back to the Marine Conservation Society allowing them to tackle marine litter at its source.

Stephen Daye, from Carrickfergus Borough Council said “Thousands of items of litter were lifted, from plastic bottles, drink cans and plastic bags.  Other interesting finds included a tyre, fire extinguisher and items of clothing.  Litter comes from four main sources: fishing, shipping, the public and sewage related debris (particularly cotton buds).  Beach litter is continually washed ashore, making it a very difficult problem to eradicate – this is why the UK wide survey is so important!

“Last years Beachwatch Big Weekend revealed a shocking rise in the amount of bathroom rubbish found on UK beaches. Some householders are using their loos as bins and flushing away items. The amount of sewage related debris ending up on our shores shot up by 40%, according to the latest Beachwatch report published earlier this year.   The results of the Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Beachwatch Big Weekend will be published next spring.” Concluded Mr. Daye

Beach litter is an increasing problem in Northern Ireland with approximately one item of litter being found per footstep on beaches.  Amanda Wilson, the Marine Conservation Society organiser for the Marine Highway Shoreline said, “Some of our best loved marine wildlife is under threat from hazardous litter in our seas. Hundreds of species of marine wildlife accidentally eat, or become tangled up in litter - and it’s also hazardous to people. It’s great that Carrickfergus Borough Council is so keen to be involved with the work of MCS and have shown such enthusiasm for Beachwatch Big Weekend”.  For more information on events taking place throughout Northern Ireland visit www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch.

Ulster in Bloom Success for Borough (06th September 2011)

Gardeners throughout Carrickfergus Borough are celebrating following the results announcement for the 2011 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition. The horticultural talents of our Borough were recognised at a ceremony in Ballymena today with awards for Carrickfergus Town and Whitehead Railway Station.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer, who attended the award ceremony, said "After a summer of fierce competition and intensive judging, Carrickfergus received a second place in the Large Town Category. The Borough also was successful in the Community Rail Halt category with Whitehead receiving the third place. Translink Ulster in Bloom is a magnificent opportunity for our Borough to enhance its surroundings and create beautiful displays that are enjoyed by everybody. Our Borough is renowned for its floral displays which are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. The Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative also plays a critical role in bringing people and investment to the town. However, it's important to say that issues such as cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement are equally as important. In the Borough, the 'In Bloom' initiative is much more than bedding plants and making the Borough look good for one day; instead it is a 365 day initiative. Carrickfergus Borough Council along with our partners have done a wonderful job in broadening the appeal of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative, by getting people to work together we have made our Borough better. Our successes within Ulster in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses and local people throughout the Borough; and statuary bodies such as the Housing Executive and Department of Regional Development. I would like to personally thank all the staff at Carrickfergus Parks and Cleansing Sections whose hard work and imagination has been the backbone of our entry over the years and I congratulate everyone who took part this year."

John Trethowan, Chairman, Translink, said "With 127 entries from local councils, businesses and community groups as well as 21 bus and rail station entries, Translink Ulster in Bloom continues to attract high participation levels as people throughout Northern Ireland demonstrate their superb gardening talent. Participants have shown immense skill and creativity to ensure their areas are kept attractive. Their exquisite plant and floral displays can be enjoyed by both local people and tourists, making a positive lasting impression during their visit to Northern Ireland. While a number of category titles have been retained by several council areas, we have also seen a number of newcomers reach the top three placings. We hope these impressive displays will encourage even more people to get involved in Ulster in Bloom next year." said John.

Councillor Evelyne Robinson, President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said "As NILGA President, I welcome the opportunity to convey my appreciation and gratitude to the many councils, local ‘In Bloom’ committees, volunteers and supporters for all their hard work and countless dedication which all contribute to the ongoing success of the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition. I am especially pleased at NILGA’s support and our continual encouragement to councils in their entries. As a Councillor I recognise the improvement in my constituency area of Ballymoney, I am very conscious of the savings which can be achieved for rate-payers through involvement in the Competition. Careful husbandry and a feeling of ownership by the residents is very helpful in combating vandalism and the nuisance of anti - social behaviour, besides providing education through good example. A pleasant, attractive environment can also be very useful in encouraging tourists to visit, and in influencing potential investors to establish new businesses. Congratulations to the winners and yet again sincere thanks to the sponsors, judges, councils and all those who make the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition what it is today."

Martyn Todd, board member, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said "We are proud to offer continued support to Ulster in Bloom and commend the enthusiastic efforts and hard work of all the entrants. This competition plays an important role in making Northern Ireland a must see destination by bringing colour and vibrancy to our towns and villages which makes local areas appealing to both domestic and international visitors. And in creating such attractive townscapes, it also engenders a source of civic pride. The Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition is organised by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association with the support of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board."

best kept garden winnerCarrickfergus in Bloom Garden Winners Announced (25th August 2011)

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee has announced the Carrickfergus in Bloom Competition Winners and Runners-up this morning for the Borough-wide Best Kept Awards.

At the home of the Best Kept Garden winner Shelia Johnston, Alderman Beattie said “We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition Winners and Runners-up. We are thrilled with the response from those taking part and impressed with the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of horticultural talent in our community.”

“Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom in the coming year. I would also like to thank the sponsors for supporting Carrickfergus in Bloom." ended Alderman Beattie

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council and one of the judges commented "We where very impressed by the number of high quality entries this year, the time and dedication many entrants spend in their gardens is a credit too them. Deciding on a winner was very difficult for some categories; however all who took part should be proud of their achievements."

See List of Winners

jubNew 60 Acre Woodland for Whitehead (5th August 2011)

Diamonds are forever: Carrickfergus Borough Council and the Woodland Trust to create a living, lasting legacy in Whitehead. Whitehead is set to sparkle with a precious new addition. Land on the doorstep of the town will be the Northern Ireland venue for a new 'Diamond Wood' to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne. The new gem - just over 60 acres of grassland near bentra - has been made available by Carrickfergus Borough Council.

Sixty new Diamond Woods - each 60 acres in size, plus hundreds of smaller Jubilee Woods are being created across the UK as part of the Woodland Trust's ambitious Jubilee Woods project. The aim is to plant 6 million trees and to involve millions of people in the planting.

The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg, says: "The creation of this Diamond Wood brings a special opportunity for everyone to make a personal and lasting contribution to the landscape, while marking an historic event. Working with the Woodland Trust, we hope that as many people as possible - members of the public and schoolchildren - will take part in a series of events next spring."

"Within as little as 10 years, the trees will be towering over the tallest of walkers and we'll have a flourishing woodland, rich in wildlife. We envisage a fantastic natural resource for the benefit of local people and, of course, visitors en route to the Antrim coast."

The project will commemorate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth's 60th year as monarch. Next to Queen Victoria in 1897, she is the only British sovereign ever to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.

The Woodland Trust hopes to encourage other landowners to plant their own Diamond or Jubilee Wood, and is offering help, advice and in some cases funding. The Trust is also offering thousands of free Jubilee tree packs to schools and community groups. Designed to help groups enhance local shared spaces, the community tree packs come in two sizes: 105 trees (suitable for a small grove or hedge) or 420 trees (for planting on one acre of land). Groups can choose to plant for wildlife; for wood fuel; year-round colour; or tasty treats. To find out how to get involved, please contact the Woodland Creation team on 0845 293 5680.

Web Link: www.carrickfergus.org

Carrickfergus Grammar School enjoy the launch of Carrickfergus in BloomLaunch of Carrickfergus in Bloom 2011 (20th May 2011)

The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg launched Carrickfergus in Bloom 2011 in the grounds of the Andrew Jackson Cottage. School children from throughout Carrickfergus Borough and Community representatives joined the Mayor.

Alderman Jim McClurg said "This year we are continuing with the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition. Categories include Best Kept Garden for individuals; For children we have Painting and Poetry Competitions and the very popular Tallest Sunflower Competition. For the Business Community we have hotly fought categories such as Best Kept Shop. And for those interested in showing off their gardening and photography skills we have the Virtual Flower Show. All these competitions have not only brightened-up our Borough but have been fundamental to our success in Ulster in Bloom. Let's make 2011 another winning years for Carrickfergus Borough."

The Mayor also announced that in the next few weeks the Council will plant out thousands of summer bedding plants and thanked the many sponsors for their generous support and commitment to the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. He also thanked the local schools who have shown such commitment to the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. "The Schools Growing Club initiative is a great success and young people throughout the Borough are already benefiting with the link between healthy eating and growing fruit and vegetables at home and school. The growing schools initiative offers students the benefit of practical hands on activities, helping to motivate and enhance their learning experience."

The Mayor continued "In 2011 we will continue with the Carrickfergus in Bloom campaigns of promoting capacity building through our grants initiative; we will also be encouraging wildlife gardening thought the Blooming Wild campaign; as well as the food growing campaign with initiatives such as the One Pot Pledge."

"Fruit and vegetable growing is also taking place at Eden Allotment Gardens. Since the launch in 2008 the allotments have expanded to become the largest allotment site in Ireland. We thank Sunnybank Garden Centre for continuing their support of the Best Kept Allotment Competition."

The Mayor also highlighted the important partnership working that is carried out. "Carrickfergus Borough Council along with the Department of Environment, Housing Executive plus various community and charitable groups are working together to improve the environment of Carrickfergus Borough. The significant improvements at Bashfordsland Wood is an excellent example of partnership working that involved many organisations." ended Alderman McClurg.

100,000 native trees planted across Carrickfergus Borough (26th February 2011)

Schoolchildren in Carrickfergus, one of Ulster’s most historic plantation towns, will help complete a modern ‘plantation’ next week. The young people from Oakfield Primary School in the town will be planting apple trees with the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg. This is the final part of a ten year scheme which has seen 100,000 native Irish trees planted across the Borough.  As they dig, they’ll be getting valuable lessons about the environment, healthy eating, exercise and gardening … as well as having some outdoor fun!

The project which was driven by Carrickfergus Borough Council with the support of The Woodland Trust is being completed in time for Climate Week 2011 (21 – 27 March).  Stephen Daye, the Council’s Parks & Countryside Development Officer, says, “Planting trees is a simple yet hugely effective way to improve our environment and a great contribution to combating climate change.  As the children will learn, too much carbon dioxide is contributing to climate change, but planting trees can help combat that problem because the trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen through the natural process of photosynthesis.  The more trees there are, the more carbon dioxide is changed into oxygen which is great news for all of us.  That’s the science bit, but you don’t need to be a scientist to know that tree planting creates a more attractive environment for all of us to enjoy.  The trees the children will plant have an added advantage, for they will eventually give them a harvest of apples.

“The Council, has tackled tree planting on a grand scale with 100,000 trees planted across the Borough of Carrickfergus since 2000, but this is an environmental improvement scheme which everyone can emulate, albeit at a more modest level.  Even planting just one tree is a great way to mark UK Climate Week.”

There will be an opportunity for the public to share in the celebrations to mark the greening of Carrickfergus on Saturday 26th February 2011 (from 12.00noon to 4pm ) at  Bashfordsland Wood (Red Fort Drive, Carrickfergus) when a Family Fun Day will mark  the latest investment in the wood - a £28,000 grant from BIFFA Landfill Tax Credit Scheme.

The day offers a variety of special activities including face painting, storytelling, samba drumming, guided walks, willow weaving and arts and crafts adding to the natural attractions of what is Carrickfergus Borough’s newest public park.  Funding from BIFFA has already transformed the 12.6 hectares of natural parkland and the latest phase of investment has improved its entrance.

Patrick Cregg from the Woodland Trust, partners in the Bashfordsland Wood venture, said “We are delighted to be working closely with Carrickfergus Borough Council & the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to deliver this exciting event at Bashfordsland providing the opportunity for everyone to celebrate this marvellous woodland together. This new extension to the park will be a welcome addition to the green space of Carrickfergus. As the park joins the Woodland Trust managed Oakfield Glen via a path this will be of great benefit to local people and we expect to see many new users at Oakfield Glen.”

PROGRAMME OF FUN DAY EVENTS
Storytelling sessions 12.45pm, 1.45pm & 2.45pm
Guided walks 1pm and 2pm (meet at marquee)
Drumming Workshop - 12.30pm, 1.30pm & 2.30pm

Parking is available at Oakfield Community Centre. The new Bashfordsland Wood entrance is located at Red Fort Drive off Marshallstown Road / Bradford Heights.

bashTree Planting at Bashfordsland Wood (28 January 2011)

Carrickfergus pupils from Oakfield Primary School planted trees in support of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers today.

The tree planting event took place at Bashfordsland Wood (Red Fort Drive off Marshallstown Road) on 28 January 2011 as part of the launch of Carbon Army in Northern Ireland.

Carbon Army is the climate change campaign organised by BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) - it’s all about taking local action on a global problem. The Carbon Army campaign is providing opportunities for positive action to help tackle climate change.

Tree Week Launch (19 November 2010)

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee launched National Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough at Oakfield Primary on Friday 19 November. The launch will also highlight our achievements since the year 2000, in which Carrickfergus Borough Council will have planted 100,000 trees by the end of this tree planting season.

Alderman Beattie said "National Tree Week (27th November to 5th December) is an annual event that launches the winter tree-planting season. Every year millions of trees are planted across the UK as part of the initiative. Tree Week is celebrating its 36th Birthday this year and in Carrickfergus Borough we will be playing our part by planting more trees."

"Although Carrickfergus Borough Council has committed to planting more trees, planting of new trees across the UK has fallen to its lowest level in more than three decades. We need more trees planted now if we are to see any benefit for forthcoming generations and with the start of National Tree Week, there is no better time to get planting."

"Although it may seem that there are plenty of trees, the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with half the average tree cover, so we need to make sure that we don’t fall even further behind. Tree diseases such as ‘Sudden Oak Disease’ that has affected trees in Carrickfergus and throughout the UK are another reason why we need to continue planting a mix of trees."

"Planting a tree is a tremendously 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 community woodland. To take part in a tree planting event or for further information contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. t: 93358039 or e: parks@carrickfergus.org". ended Alderman Beattie

Tree planting events in December:

Tree Planting at Whitehead Recreation Grounds in association with Brighter Whitehead on Thursday 2nd December at 2pm.

Tree planting at Eden Allotment Gardens (off Beltoy Road) on Saturday 4th December at 11am.

For further information on any tree planting events please contact Stephen Daye on 9335 8039. More tree planting events will take place in January, February & March.

Carrickfergus in Bloom winners honoured at prize-giving (22 October 2010)

ken powellsFloral creativity has once again been recognised by the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative organised by Carrickfergus Borough Council. Local competition winners and runners-up will receive their well earned certificates and prizes at a prize-giving lunch in Carrickfergus Town Hall today (Friday 22nd October 2010) with over 110 people attending the event.

Competition categories included Best Kept Garden & Best Kept Container Garden for householders; Best Kept Commercial Premises for commercial organisations; Painting, Poetry and Tallest Sunflower Competitions for young people; and for internet users we have the Virtual Flower Show.

At the Lunch, the Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie thanked all those who took part in the competition and made it such a success. "The Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competitions have really caught the imagination of Carrickfergus citizens. When they started ten years ago, fewer than 300 took part; this year over 1,600 people battled the weather and created some beautiful floral displays that we can all enjoy." said Alderman Beattie

"Carrickfergus in Bloom is a beacon of community gardening good practice, as it encourages people to get involved, builds community spirit and improves the environment we all live in. With initiatives such as our school growing clubs and one pot pledge create opportunities for health, wellbeing and learning."

Alderman Beattie also thanked the Competition Sponsors who paid for many of the flowerbeds and hanging baskets throughout the Borough. "The success of Carrickfergus in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses throughout the Borough of Carrickfergus."

"We would also thank our statutory partners that have made Carrickfergus in Bloom such a success. Translink, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive & the Department of Regional Development have helped to improve the beauty of Carrickfergus 365 days a year; with the use of flowers, colourful shrubs, trees and attractive street furniture. As have many local groups in the Borough". Ended Alderman Beattie

View the winners.

Children’s Competition Winners Announced (5 October 2010)

Laura Murdy from CarrickfergusToday Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee announced the winners and runners-up (list enclosed) of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Children’s Painting & Poetry Competitions. Alderman Beattie said “We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Children’s Painting & Poetry Competition Winners and Runners-up. The response from our young people has been extraordinary with hundreds of entries to judge. I am thrilled about the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of artistic talent in our community. “Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the end of October in Carrickfergus Town Hall to receive their certificates and prizes.

Children’s Painting Competition 15 and under

Winner: Laura Murdy, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Lauren Finlay, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Jamie Blakely, Carrickfergus

Children’s Painting Competition 10 and under

Winner: Grainne White, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Nicole Alderdice, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Shannon Vermanen, Carrickfergus

Children’s Poetry Competition

Winner: Nathan Toland, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Kirsty Wilson, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Emily Turner, Carrickfergus

View the winning painting and read the winning poems.

2010 Virtual Flower Show Competition (5 October 2010)

Snowdrops by Phil HodgesThe winners of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Virtual Flower Show have been announced by Chairperson of the Parks Committee, Alderman May Beattie. The Virtual Flower Show with a £450 prize fund is the only online competition for gardener and keen photographer to show off their skills. Judging was by popular vote from members of the public. Alderman Beattie said “The Virtual Flower Show organised by Carrickfergus in Bloom is an excellent opportunity for Carrickfergus Borough residents to show off their photographic and gardening skills in this internet based competition. The winning photographs can be viewed at www.virtualflowershow.org. Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom in the coming year. To encourage people to enter the Virtual Flower Show we ran a free prize draw to win a Digital Camera. The winner was Phil Hodges from Carrickfergus. Phil won the ‘Win a Camera' Competition, the prize was an Olympus fe-5030.” (Picture enclosed Chairperson of the Parks Committee, Alderman May Beattie and Phil Hodges).

The Winners and runners-up are:

My Garden: Winner - Pink Flowers by Shelley Malcolmson; Runner-Up - Peace by Joyce Kernohan

My Favourite Outdoor Plant: Winner - Snowdrops by Phil Hodges; Runner-Up - Clemitas by Gladys Blair

My Favourite Indoor Plant: Winner - Bloomin Clivia by Jean Mccullough; Runner-Up - Hothouse Orchid Brian Anderson

My Favourite Landscape / Garden Setting: Winner - Arcadia by Brian Kelley; Runner-Up - Tulips by Terry Cooper

Flowers in their natural, wild setting: Winner - Rustic Bluebells by David Jackson; Runner-Up - Rockingham Forest by Park Harry Bates

Flowers with pets or other animals: Winner - Peek-a-boo by Joanne Campbell; Runner-Up - My Orange Clivia by Harry Bates

View and download Virtual Flower Show winning photos.

Tallest Sunflower Competition Winners Announced (24 September 2010)

The winner and runners-up of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Tallest Sunflower Competition have been announced today. The winner: Naomi Kinnon aged 7 from Carrickfergus whose sunflower grew over 3 meters. The runners-up are Sarah, Scott & Thomas Alexander from Carrickfergus & Rebecca Boyd from Carrickfergus. Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Officer explained “Carrickfergus Borough Council distributed in March, two thousand packets of Sunflower seeds to local school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. After months of tender loving care by the young people it’s great to see the end results. The time and dedication many entrants spend on tending their sunflowers is extraordinary and is a credit too them."

Best Kept Allotment Winners Announced (14th September 2010)

Godfrey Robinson CarrickfergusCarrickfergus Borough Council has announced the winners of the Best Kept Allotment sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre, they are:

Winner: Godfrey Robinson, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: William Robinson, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Maggi Watson, Greenisland.

What the judges looked for environment sustainability; the variety & quality of the crop; the control of weeds & rubbish; the use of compost; general appearance; creativity of each plot. The prizes are: 1st Prize: £60.00 Gift Voucher plus two Runner-Up Prizes: £35.00 Gift Voucher. The award ceremony will take place at the October Carrickfergus in Bloom Prize Giving lunch.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer said “Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of Borough through the services it provides including our allotment service. We opened are allotment site at Eden two years ago. What started as 36 plots has grown to 189 plots. Eden Allotment Gardens is now the largest allotment site in Ireland and Carrickfergus Borough Council is the top allotment provider in Northern Ireland. I would encourage residents of the Borough to visit Eden Allotment Gardens off Beltoy Road to view what the allotmenteers have achieved in the past year. The quality of the plots did make it difficult to pick our winners but all allotment holders should be proud of their achievements. We would like to thank Sunnybank Garden Centre who kindly sponsored the Best Kept Allotment Competition.”

Winners Announced for Community Garden Competition (3rd September 2010)

Joan Reid's best Kept GardenAlderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee has announced the Carrickfergus in Bloom Competition Winners and Runners-up this morning for the Borough-wide Best Kept Awards.

Alderman Beattie said “We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition Winners and Runners-up. I am thrilled with the response from those taking part and am really excited about the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of horticultural talent in our community. Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom in the coming year. I would also like to thank the sponsors for supporting Carrickfergus in Bloom." ended Alderman Beattie

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council and one of the judges commented "We where very impressed by the number of high quality entries this year, the time and dedication many entrants spend in their gardens is a credit too them. Deciding on a winner was very difficult for some categories; however all who took part should be proud of their achievements."

Best Kept Garden

Winner: Joan Reid, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: John O’Neill, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Chris Hamil, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Bill Johnston, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Container Garden

Winner: Annette Keith, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Christopher Betts, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Robert Welch, Eden.
Runner-Up: Ruth Hickey, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Community Planting Scheme

Winner: Brooklands Drive Residents Association, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Charles Sheils Charity, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Greenisland Environmental and Heritage Group, Greenisland.
Runner-Up: Carrickfergus Town Centre Display (Carrickfergus Chamber of Commerce)

Best Kept Commercial Premises

Winner: The Gallery, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: McMasters Butchers, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Glam Hair and Beauty Salon, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Northern Bank Limited, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Pub or Hotel

Winner: Coffee and Cream, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Brewers Fayre, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Hillcrest, Carrickfergus.

See Carrickfergus in Bloom competition website.

Results of Translink Ulster in Bloom 2010 Competition

Gardeners responsible for Northern Ireland’s best plant and floral displays celebrated today (Thursday 2nd September 2010) at the results ceremony for the 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition. The Borough won three awards with Carrickfergus coming second in the large town category. Carrickfergus Station came second in the Best Station Award and the Brighter Whitehead Community came first in the Community Rail Halt Award for their hard work at Whitehead Train Station. Speaking at the results ceremony in the elegant surroundings of Lissanoure Castle, Loughguile, County Antrim, Veronica Palmer, Chairman, Translink, said: “2010 marks the 32nd year of Ulster in Bloom and attracted 130 entries representing local councils, community organisations and businesses as well as 36 bus and train stations. Despite some challenging weather conditions, participants have produced exquisite and clever floral and plant displays capable of transforming areas and delighting both local people and visitors, enhancing social and economic prosperity. It is great to see that many areas have sustained their impressive flair for horticulture and retained their Ulster in Bloom title and it is also encouraging to welcome newcomers into the top spots demonstrating the growing appeal of the competition. I would like to congratulate all our winners and runners-up and I hope their delightful displays will provide inspiration for others to try their hand at gardening.”

Tallest Sunflower Competition

1st September is the last day applications will be accepted for the Carrickfergus in Bloom Tallest Sunflower Competition. Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee is asking those young gardening enthusiasts who have not filled in their application to do so before 1st September. "Carrickfergus Borough Council in April handed out Sunflower seeds to Carrickfergus Borough primary and secondary school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. We distributed application forms to each householder in the Borough and have been amazed by the number of applications and photos received to date, the competition is really catching the imagination of the public. Last year’s winner Sophie Montgomery aged 11 from Carrickfergus grew a sunflower of 3 meters 60cm. “

“Applicants for the Tallest Sunflower Competition are requested to measure their sunflower during the last week of August using a metric tape measure and complete the application form. Additional application forms are available from the Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre, Local Newspapers or from the Carrickfergus in Bloom website: www.carrickfergusinbloom.org. “The Carrickfergus in Bloom Children's Community Competitions have a total prize fund of £350. Other competitions include Poetry & Painting; entries for these competitions must be received by 30th September.”

"Everybody who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus is invited to take part in Carrickfergus in Bloom as there is something for everyone. By entering you not only brighten up your own house but you also aid our borough's entry to the Ulster in Bloom & Britain in Bloom competitions." ended Alderman Beattie. The winners and runner-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. Enter Here.

Holy and Becky DisleyCarrickfergus Celebrates National Allotment Week

To celebrate National Allotment Week (9th to 15th August 2010) a Scarecrow competition was held at Eden Allotment Gardens on Saturday 7th August. The competition was won by Holy & Becky Disley – see photograph with Alderman May Beattie. Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to improving the wellbeing for all the people of the Borough, through the services it provides, including our Allotment Service. We officially opened our first allotment site at Eden in 2008. What started as 36 plots has grown to 189 plots, Eden Allotment Gardens is now the largest allotment site in Ireland and Carrickfergus Borough Council is the top allotment provider in Northern Ireland supplying 38% of all plots in Northern Ireland. 

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks & Countryside Committee said "Eden Allotment Gardens has been a great success. With rising food prices, concern regarding the distance food travels and the ‘grow your own’ television programmes allotments throughout the UK are in demand. National Allotments Week is a great opportunity to highlight these issues. 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 provide the chance to socialise with others who enjoy a similar rewarding pastime."

"Allotments can provide a great sense of well-being and give pleasure and satisfaction to people who through their own skills and effort produce their own food and of course in addition allotments are also beneficial to the environment and wildlife generally. Owning an allotment could also mean cancelling that expensive gym subscription and having an alternative workout at your very own 'green gym'."
“With the recession and the upsurge in the need for land for people to grow their own food, we hope to encourage more allotment provision to satisfy local demand.” Concluded Alderman Beattie.

Get snap happy this summer in Carrickfergus Borough (21st July 2010)

“Are you a keen photographer? If so then there are two photography competitions that will interest you. Carrickfergus in Bloom’s Virtual Flower Show with a £450 prize fund and “Postcards from the Park” 2010, a national photography competition organised by parks charity GreenSpace with a £1000 prize fund. “The Virtual Flower Show is an opportunity for Carrickfergus Borough residents to show off their photographic and gardening skills in this internet based competition” said Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer. Borough residents are requested to submit before 21st August a favourite photograph taken during the last year, which fits one of the six categories:

My Garden
My Favourite Outdoor Plant
My Favourite Indoor Plant
My Favourite Landscape or Garden Setting
Flowers in their natural, wild setting
Flowers with pets or other animals

Entries may be submitted in jpeg format to the Virtual Flower Show website www.virtualflowershow.org. Enter the Virtual Flower Show before 21st August and you will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win an Olympus Digital Camera.

“Postcards from the Park” highlights the unique part that parks play in community life.” said Environmentalist and presenter, Chris Packham. "Parks are great places to take photos and there’ll be no problem finding loads of interesting subject matter, from wildlife to trees, and people having fun to detailed features on a bandstand or building. We are always impressed with the flair of photos we receive and I'm sure this year's entries will be even better." To enter “Postcards from the Park” visit www.postcardsfromthepark.org.uk.

Paul Bramhill, of GreenSpace, said: “Postcards from the Park is an excellent way for everyone to get out and about and enjoy their local public park. This competition has now become one of the highlights of the parks’ calendar and I am looking forward to seeing all the entries.”

For further information contact Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. T: (028) 93358039 or E: inbloom@carrickfergus.org.

Love Parks Week in Carrickfergus Borough (21st July 2010)

Love Parks Week 2010 will take place between Saturday 24th July and Sunday 1st August. We are asking as many people as possible to get into parks to join our campaign for continued investment and support for these valuable assets. Love Parks Week is an annual UK campaign, organised by parks charity GreenSpace. The campaign has been established as a major event that is celebrated in parks across the country. In Carrickfergus Borough we have a number of events.

Big Moth Hunt:

Date: Tuesday 27th July (7.30 to 9pm) & Venue: Eden Allotment Gardens, Beltoy Road, Eden. Join Catherine Bertrand from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland and discover what moth species you can find at Eden Allotment Gardens, Beltoy Road, Eden. Fun FREE event for all. FREE Butterfly ID Chart for all participants. Under 18's must be accompanied by an adult. This event continues the following morning at 10am to ID what has been discovered.

Moth Identification Event:

Date: Wednesday 28th July (10am) & Venue: Eden Allotment Gardens, Beltoy Road, Eden. This follows on from the Big Moth Hunt on Tuesday 27th at Eden Allotment Gardens.

Big Butterfly Count

Date: Wednesday 28th July (11.30am to 1pm) & Venue: Bashfordsland Wood (Meet at Oakfield Community Centre). Join Catherine Bertrand from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland and discover what species you can find at Bashfordsland Wood. Fun FREE event for all. FREE Butterfly ID Chart for all participants. Under 18's must be accompanied by an adult.

Seashore Safari

Date: Saturday 31st July 2010 from 12 to 1.30pm & Meet at Blackhead Path Car Park, Whitehead. Flora and Fauna Rocks! Explore the flora, fauna and geology of Blackhead Path and shoreline. Visit the weird and wonderful habitat that exists along Blackhead Path with Geologist Ian Enlander from the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group and Botanist John Wann.

Would You Like An Event In Your Local Park? Then please contact us, see details below.

For further information please contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer. Telephone: 028 9335 8039 ~ E-Mail: parks@carrickfergus.org . To visit the Love Parks Week Website go to: www.loveparksweek.org.uk.

Launch of Ulster in Bloom 2010 (17 June 2010)

ulster in bloom 2010The 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition was launched in the natural surroundings of Castle Espie Wetland Centre, County Down. This year there are 130 entries representing councils, community groups and businesses as well as 36 bus and train stations. Supported by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the awards are now in their 32nd year and continue to attract the very highest standards of plant and floral displays.

Speaking at the official launch, Translink Chairman Veronica Palmer said it is important that Northern Ireland continues to look after its unique living landscapes: “Our Ulster in Bloom participants play an important role in cities, towns and villages by not only creating beautiful plant and floral arrangements for local people and visitors to enjoy but also by supporting biodiversity; providing vital habitats for local wildlife to flourish and sustaining natural eco-systems. The exceptional standard of entries last year shows that Northern Ireland has a flair and passion for horticulture and we want to reward those individuals and organisations who make that extra effort to enhance their natural surroundings.”

President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, Councillor John Mathews said: “The Translink Ulster in Bloom competition has made, and continues to make a remarkable contribution to the improvement and enhancement of the villages, towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The competition was started back in 1979 by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, since then it has grown considerably, this year receiving 130 entries.  It is my pleasure to congratulate and thank the participating councils, their staff and local residents for their interest, enthusiasm and horticultural contribution which further enhances the communities in which we live. NILGA members are very pleased to support this event and the sponsors.  We will also continue to support councils as they recognise the value of supporting Ulster in Bloom. I wish all entrants every success”.

Board member, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Alistair McGowan said: “The Ulster in Bloom competition is an invaluable tool for attracting visitors; it also ensures that their stay in Northern Ireland is even more pleasant. If our visitors have an enjoyable and memorable time they will spread the good word. An increase in the ‘staycation’ trend shows how holidaymakers have decided to stay in Northern Ireland rather than travel abroad.  Destinations at home are perfect for an affordable weekend away and families can enjoy days out at a wide range of Northern Ireland’s finest attractions, taking in many of the beautiful towns and villages which are adorned with flowerbeds, hanging baskets, trees and floral displays. All of the entrants should be proud of their hard work.”

Above photograph of event: Launch of Ulster in Bloom at Castle Espie in Comber on 17 June 2010: L-R Gregg Buchanan, Greenisland Environment and Heritage Group, Hannah Moore, Translink NI Railways – Carrick, John McCauley, Brighter Whitehead, Sandra Buchanan, Greenisland Environment and Heritage Group, Bill Pollock, Brighter Whitehead, Margaret Chambers, Brighter Whitehead, Cllr John Mathews, President, NILGA, Veronica Palmer, Chairman, Translink, Alistair McGowan, NITB Board member, Alderman May Beattie, Carrickfergus Borough Council, Frank Moore, Translink NI Railways Route Manager – Carrick, Stephen Daye, Carrickfergus Borough Council, Carolyn Stewart, Translink NI Railways.

Launch of Carrickfergus in Bloom 2010 (14 April 2010)

2010 Launch of Carrickfergus in BloomThe Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie, launched the Carrickfergus in Bloom 2010 campaign in the grounds of the historic Andrew Jackson Cottage. School children from throughout Carrickfergus Borough and Community representatives also joined in to the sounds of the APEX Jazz Band. "Carrickfergus Borough Council is encouraging everyone who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus to ‘do one more thing’ for Carrickfergus in Bloom. Whether you fill a hanging basket, enter one of the 10 competitions, plant a tree, grow some fruit and vegetables or put up bird box. There is something for everyone to do to make our Borough bloom this year.” said Alderman Beattie. "The Council will be planting thousands of summer and spring flowering plants, hundreds hanging baskets as well as thousands of spring flowering bulbs this year. Our tree-planting initiative and the continued reduction of bedding plants in favour of more permanent planting are the ways we are enhancing the environment and biodiversity of Carrickfergus Borough for today and for tomorrow." continued Alderman Beattie "We will again be organising the Borough-wide Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competitions. Local communities are encouraged to take part by entering the Best Kept Front Garden and Window Box Competitions. Allotment holders at Eden can enter the Best Kept Allotment Competition sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre. Children can take part in the Painting, Poetry, and Tallest Sunflower competitions. Local businesses will also be asked to participate by entering the Best Kept Shop and other Commercial premises section. And Web users and keen photographers can enter the Virtual Flower Show. continued Alderman Beattie “Carrickfergus Borough Council along with the Department of Environment, Housing Executive and various Community Groups are working together to improve the beauty of Carrickfergus with the use of flowers, colourful shrubs and trees. The significant improvements at the Marine Highway is an excellent example of partnership working." ended Alderman Beattie

Mayor of Carrickfergus joins ‘One Pot Pledge’ (14 April 2010)

Mayor of Carrickfergus joins One Pot PledgeThe Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Patricia McKinney unveiled her mini allotment in a pot and has taken up the ‘One Pot Pledge’. The Mayor will be growing vegetables, herbs and even strawberries at the Carrickfergus Civic Centre courtyard this summer. Alderman McKinney said "We want to encourage Carrickfergus Citizens to make the One Pot Pledge and sow, grow and harvest their own food for the very first time in 2010." "Growing food, even on a small scale in just a pot, gives people the chance to connect with the food they eat. As well as saving money and encouraging healthier eating, growing fruit and vegetables also helps people to make more sustainable food choices." "We are trying to promote growing your own food and vegetables, getting families and children involved and getting their hands dirty. It's a growing movement throughout the country and we're just hoping to encourage that within our Borough too." "Carrickfergus Borough has already an excellent track record at encouraging our citizens to grow their own. The Borough is the home of the largest allotment site in Ireland and we have successfully run the Carrickfergus School Growing Clubs initiative that encourages pupils to grow and eat fruit and vegetables in their school grounds." ended Alderman McKinney. The Mayor is not the only politician embracing the "grow your own" movement. David Cameron will be taking over Gordon Brown’s vegetable garden at Downing Street. Barack Obama has a herb and vegetable patch at the White House. And even the Queen has turned a corner of palace backyard into an allotment. To join the campaign, go to Carrickfergus in Bloom website, www.carrickfergusinbloom.org/onepotpledge.htm which features growing advice and tips." At the site you can follow the Mayor’s progress and even upload your own photographs to show how your own ‘One Pot Pledge’ is growing!

Make the One Pot Pledge and give growing your own a go (22nd March 2010)

Carrickfergus Borough Council is backing a nationwide campaign launched today by Garden Organic that will target a growing band of people that want to have a go at growing their own food for the first time. The campaign, the One Pot Pledge, aims to help gardening newcomers to grow an edible crop by using simple steps and clear advice to encourage and enthuse them. Stephen Daye, Parks and Countryside Development Officer said "We want to encourage Carrickfergus Citizens to make the One Pot Pledge and sow, grow and harvest their own food for the very first time in 2010. It is expected that 30,000 people throughout the UK will take the pledge. Growing food, even on a small scale in just a pot, gives people the chance to connect with the food they eat. As well as saving money and encouraging healthier eating, growing fruit and vegetables also helps people to make more sustainable food choices. Despite the surge in interest in grow your own, many newcomers, although keen to have a go, still don't know where to start when it comes to food growing. Many are put off because they think they don't have space to garden, or because they don't have the time or knowledge. By encouraging people to start small with just one pot, the One Pot Pledge campaign aims to combat this, promising to make growing easy and successful. To join the campaign, go to The One Pot Pledge website, www.onepotpledge.org, which features everything from downloadable growing advice and tips.