Gardening enthusiasts have been hailed for their creative approach to making Mid and East Antrim a brighter borough.
It follows the presentation of the annual Mid and East Antrim in Bloom Community Awards at Ecos.
The Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow, was assisted at the special event by BBC radio presenter Stephen Clements, who admitted to being an enthusiastic but novice gardener and hoped to pick up some top tips from the borough’s horticultural experts.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cllr Morrow said: “Our ‘In Bloom’ Community Competitions are an important way for us to celebrate local people, network of volunteers, and local businesses, who actively support our ‘In Bloom’ campaign and who dedicate so much time to planting floral displays, improving areas for biodiversity, keeping towns and villages clean and tidy and ‘greening the grey’ by brightening up forgotten corners. All this not only beautifies our Borough, but can help boost the economy and tourism.
“I am delighted the Community Competitions are so well supported by our citizens. We had entries from all across the Borough. 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. Thank you all for your efforts and thank you for being here today. Please keep up the good work, as we work together to create a better future for everyone.”
Amongst a host of winners on the day were Best Kept Garden winners Frances and Jack Wilson from Glenarm, Best Kept Allotment Garden winner Alan Rice from Larne and Gardening for Wildlife winner Damien McAllister from Portglenone.
The Base Garden in Ballymena won the Best Community Planting Scheme award and The Bank House Whitehead won the Best Commercial Premises award.
Young gardeners from Carnlough, Larne and Carrickfergus grew the Tallest Sunflowers in the Borough. Nixie Culbert, age 8, from Carrickfergus won the Best Painting award and Larne and Inver Primary School won the Best School Garden award.
John Small from Ahoghill was crowned Volunteer of the Year and Abbie Hill from Larne was awarded Young Volunteer of the Year.
Meanwhile, Bertie McNeilly from Cullybackey was recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to ‘in bloom’.
Three environmental groups - D3MAC Ballymena, Charles Shiels Community Carrickfergus and the Portglenone Paddlers - were awarded the ‘Eco Champion’ award.
After the awards ceremony afternoon tea was served by Ability Café, now based at the ECOS, and entertainment was provided by the ‘This is Me’ Choir.
This choir was set up last year as part of Mid and East Antrim Council’s Dementia Friendly Communities programme and is open to people living with dementia, carers, friends and family.
For more information and to keep up to date you can go to www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/inbloom