Brighter Whitehead News
Whitehead is blooming for Royal Horticultural Society UK finals judging (5th August 2016)
Green fingered volunteers from Whitehead have been busy putting the finishing touches to their Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom campaign ahead of the arrival of RHS judges Geraldine King and Andrew Jackson on Friday 5th August 2016. Last summer 72 locations were selected to represent their region/nation in this year’s Britain in Bloom finals, each hoping to score top marks and be announced category winner at an awards ceremony in Birmingham on 14 October. Whitehead is in the Small Town category alongside a large number of other small towns including St Saviour in Jersey, Studley in the Heart of England and Freckleton in the North West of England. When assessing Whitehead the judges will take into consideration three key criteria: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility. Bill Pollock, Brighter Whitehead, (piuctured above) said: "We have been very successful over the years including winning the 2015 Translink Ulster in Bloom Community Rail Halt Award, and we are hoping to be successful in the Britain in Bloom competition this year. We have a fantastic Brighter Whitehead Committee who are out planting trees and bulbs and brightening up the town, come rain or shine, and we have a great many supporters and sponsors in Whitehead. Whitehead has a community orchard, a nature reserve, a community garden, award winning rail halt, and of course, flowers, flowers, flowers! We are looking forward to the judging and hope we will do well on 5th August.”
Nesting project backs endangered Barn Owl (29 June 2016)
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been doing its bit for barn owls, one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic species - but also one of the most endangered. The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, said: “There are thought to be less than 30 to 40 breeding pairs left in Northern Ireland with the main reason for the barn owl's decline being the loss of suitable feeding and nesting sites.
“In order to enhance our parks and open spaces for barn owls our staff have specially chosen three sites in the Borough as potential barn owl habitat and have installed three custom built barn owl nest boxes. The boxes have been installed at Eden Allotment Gardens Carrickfergus, Diamond Jubilee Wood Whitehead and Ecos Nature Park Ballymena,” Cllr Wales said. She is shown here with one of the local owls that may benefit from the nesting boxes. Local schools Eden Primary, Kilcoan Primary and Ballykeel Primary helped out with the project, with pupils learning all about barns owls and helping to build the nest boxes. These three sites all offer rough grassland near the edges of watercourses, with good rodent populations and so provide ideal hunting habitats.
Bird expert, Aidan Crean, explained: “The habitats in Mid and East Antrim offer great feeding opportunities for barn owls but there was a lack of suitable nest sites in the area. Hopefully barn owls will find and use these new nest boxes. If even one box is used, we can monitor it and this will make a significant contribution to the knowledge of these mysterious birds. So keep a look out and if you are lucky enough to see one of these wonderful birds, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council would be delighted to hear from you. However, please do not disturb the barn owl in any way. They are protected under the Wildlife Order and it is an offence to disturb the birds or their nests,” Aidan added.
The Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was launched on 18th December 2014. The LBAP document sets out how biodiversity within the region can be protected and enhanced for the benefit of all and for future generations.
‘Give and Gain’ volunteers working towards a better environment (20th May 2016)
Green-fingered volunteers from the business sector have been building-up their own personal skills and helping to both construct and maintain a better environment for the community. The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Billy Ashe, has commended volunteers across the Borough who have come out in support of the innovative ‘Give & Gain Day’, such as these (pictured today) from Lloyds at work in Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead, carrying out essential tree maintenance in the community orchard.
Cllr Ashe said: “Give & Gain day is a Business in the Community initiative that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council wholeheartedly supports. “We have had hard working volunteers working in our green spaces across the Borough, and I would personally like to thank them for their time and effort,” he said. Volunteers from banking group Lloyds carried out essential tree maintenance in Diamond Jubilee Wood Whitehead. Volunteers from Belfast International Airport and from Ballymena bottlers Norbev carried out biodiversity improvements at Ecos Nature Park, such as building bird boxes.
We have some fantastic parks and open spaces in the Borough and are committed to looking after them for the benefit of our local communities and local wildlife, with this initiative helping to do just that,” said Cllr Ashe.
Kieran Harding, Managing Director of Business in the Community NI said that volunteering is a powerful tool: “It builds dialogue and relationships between groups of people and organisations who might otherwise not have the opportunity to engage in a community. “It offers genuine mutual benefit - the experience builds skills and motivates employees, while helping to make a positive contribution that meets community needs. Give & Gain Day is all about celebrating what can be achieved in communities through the power of volunteers – but it’s more than just a day and we urge businesses that take part to use it as a springboard into deeper long term engagement in communities across Northern Ireland all year round,” he said.
Mayor launches ‘blooming’ Borough campaign (13th May 2016)
Cllr Ashe said that Mid and East Antrim’s ‘In Bloom’ campaign is an opportunity to make the Borough bloom even more this year. “We can all help and take part by filling a hanging basket, planting a tree or just keeping the garden tidy - there is something for everyone to do to ensure our Borough looks its best. Applications are welcome from all residents of the Borough and competition entry is free of charge. Why not consider nominating a neighbour’s garden and other properties that you think are attractive and deserve recognition?” Cllr Ashe said.
There are 10 community competitions with great prizes available for winners and runners-up in each. The general categories range from Best Kept Garden to Best Kept Allotment so there is sure to be something for everyone. There are four competitions for young horticulturalists too – Painting, Poetry, Best School Gardening Project and of course, the hotly contested Tallest Sunflower Competition. In fact, Council staff have been busy this week delivering 5,000 free packets of sunflower seeds to schools across the Borough to get pupils started. Silverstream Primary School, Greenisland, pupils are shown below as they receive their free sunflower seeds.
Cllr Ashe continued: “The theme of this year’s campaign, ‘Greening Grey Britain for Health and Happiness’, will see community groups around the UK organising gardening activities to boost local health and wellbeing. I’d like to encourage our residents in Mid and East Antrim Borough to get outdoors, join in our community competitions and see first-hand how gardening activities have a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing,” the Mayor concluded.
Andrea Van Sittart, Royal Horticultural Society Head of Community Outreach, said: “Through our Bloom campaign we see gardening and green spaces having a positive impact on individuals and communities. Gardening together provides an opportunity for exercise, can help reduce stress and lessen social isolation. We hope this year’s campaign theme will get people talking about what a great healer gardening can be.”
General Gardening Categories
1. Best Kept Front Garden;
2. Best Kept Front Container Garden;
3. Best Kept Community Planting Scheme;
4. Best Kept Allotment Garden;
5. Best Kept Commercial Premises;
6. Gardening for Wildlife Award;
Young people's (16 and under) Categories
7. Tallest Sunflower Competition;
8. Painting Competition;
9. Poetry Competition;
10. Best School Gardening Project.
Judging criteria for General Categories: 1) Design and general effect; 2) Plant variety and diversity; 3) Cleanliness and neatness (presentation); 4) Quality of plant growth & produce (husbandry); 5) Special features (e.g. wildlife area, pool etc.); 6) Plants in bloom.
There are prizes for winners and runners up in each category and winners and runners up will be invited to an awards ceremony in October. Entries 1 to 6 must be received by 20th July. Entry 7 must be received by 1 September. Entries 8 to 10 must be received by 30 September.
Family fun day is ‘knit’ all it seems as Borough backs innovative ‘Woollen Wood’ project (25th April 2016)
The only ‘Woollen Wood’ anywhere in Northern Ireland will be unveiled soon with a grand opening marked by a free family fun day. Running from 1pm – 4pm, it is scheduled to take place on Saturday 7 May with Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, noting that Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead will be transformed into a ‘woollen wonderland’ featuring hundreds of woodland-themed artworks made from wool, which have been created by schools, community groups, craft groups and individuals all over Northern Ireland.
Explaining that this project is a collaboration between Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and local craft shop Lighthouse Yarns, Cllr Ashe added: “Our main aim is to combine the arts and environment, to draw new audiences to crafting and biodiversity, to enhance local culture. “The theme for this year is hedgehogs as our Woollen Woods Grand Opening falls within Hedgehog Awareness Week. Our hedgehogs are in decline and one of the main reasons is loss of habitat. We’d like to celebrate the fact that Diamond Jubilee Wood is a haven for hedgehogs, as well as many other birds, insects, frogs and mammals,” he said.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council wants to encourage more people to get involved in local biodiversity, in line with its Local Biodiversity Action Plan, so the aim is to do so through a range of fun and inspirational events which have biodiversity at their core. Cllr Ashe said: “I encourage everyone to come along and see the wonderful display on Saturday 7 May and join in with some family friendly festivities including arts and crafts, storytelling, face painting, pond dipping, bug hunts, nest box building and more.”
Louise Williamson, Lighthouse Yarns, added: “We have received so many woollen donations from creative crafters across the country and I can’t wait to see them all on display. Thank you for all the hard work. We hope the grand opening will offer a little something for everyone – a day to keep the whole family entertained and, of course, keep the devoted crafters and budding biodiversity experts happy!” Louise concluded: “If you go ‘down to the woods today’ you might just find a knitted robin sitting in a tree, a crocheted mushroom on the forest floor or a whole host of handmade hedgehogs." (Pictured here), also shown (below) is Louise Williamson (second from left) with local community crafters getting ready for Diamond Jubilee Wood’s Woollen Wood Grand Opening 2016
Whitehead Sucess at Ulster in Bloom (17th September 2015)
The 2015 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition has been announced with Whitehead Train Station announced as the 2015 winner of the Community Rail Halt Award. Whitehead was also placed second in the Small Town category. Commenting on this achievement, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Billy Ashe expressed his delight 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. Ulster in Bloom has broadened the appeal by getting people to work together, making our Borough a much better place to live and visit."
Biodiversity Summer School (3rd August 2015)
This is a great chance to give 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. Monday 3rd to Friday 7th August 2015 – every morning from 11am to 1pm at Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead.
Monday 3rd 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.
Tuesday 4th August - Bug Life! Bugs - they’re not creepy and they don’t crawl. Find out what lives in the grass, between the trees and in the ponds. Catch them in nets and scoop them from the ponds, watch them up close and learn their names. There is also a collection of wonderful insects from around the world to compare to our local species. Are you brave enough to hold one in your hand?
Wednesday 5th 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!
Thursday 6th 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 the importance of protecting our native birds and bats with instruction on where to place and how to monitor your bird and bat box.
Friday 7th August - Come fly with Me: Make your own kite from natural and recycled resources. Take a walk in the woodland and hunt for natural materials to decorate and personalise your high flying kite. Once made, the kites will fly high in the woodland before a celebratory end of week get together with refreshments.
Whitehead ‘Love their local parks’ (24th July 2015)
People across the Borough have celebrated Love Parks Week, between Friday 24th July and Sunday 2nd August. Councillor Billy Ashe, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, who launched the initiative locally, said: “Love Parks Week encourages friends, families, the young and old, to come together and enjoy what our parks and green spaces offer. “These spaces provide many opportunities for friendships, education, health, exercise and simple play and fun," he said. See full list of events at the Council website.
Woollen Woods Fun Day (16th May 2015)
Woollen Woods is coming to Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead! This will be the only Woollen Wood in Northern Ireland! The theme is ‘Orchard fruits’ and we encourage everyone to get knitting and crocheting! We will be holding a series of knitting, crocheting and pom-pom workshops, and a Free Family Fun Day on Saturday 16th May, 1pm-5pm, for those wanting to learn a new skill and get involved. The deadline for applications is 8th May 2015 and you can see your work displayed in Diamond Jubilee Wood from Saturday 16th May 2015. You can submit your woolly contribution to – Lighthouse Yarns, The Bank House, Edward Road, Whitehead, BT38 9QB. The Woollen Woods is an outdoor art installation featuring hundreds of woodland-themed woollen artworks in support of ‘The Campaign for Wool‘. Participants can use any technique to create their woollen artworks but are encouraged to use yarns with a high wool content where possible because – like the sheep – it’s remarkably hardy and can withstand the elements. Please note: This is an outdoor event. Please wear suitable clothing and footwear, children to be accompanied by an adult
Buzzing about Biodiversity (3rd March 2015)
The launch of the Mid and East Antrim Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) was held in the grounds of Silverstream Primary School, Greenisland, on Tuesday 3rd March 2015. Guests included members of Carrickfergus Council, headmasters of local schools and members of local community groups. Primary 5, 6 and 7 pupils joined in the fun and planted 100 trees and built insect boxes to mark the occasion.
The trees planted will form a native hedgerow which will in time provide habitat and resources for insects, mammals, and birds. The insect boxes were made with willow, bamboo, moss and other natural materials and will provide a home for beetles, spiders, solitary bees and many more important invertebrates which are essential for biodiversity.
The LBAP document sets out how biodiversity within the region can be protected and enhanced for the benefit of all, and for future generations. We are very lucky in Carrickfergus to have such a wealth of wildlife which we should strive to protect. The main habitats within the region are coastal, grasslands, woodlands, rivers, lakes, bogs and urban/industrial. In Carrickfergus we have some wonderful sites such as Blackhead Path, Beach Road Nature Reserve and Diamond Jubilee Wood which are all important for biodiversity.
Through this LBAP we want to encourage people to get involved in local biodiversity. We want to make the urban environment more attractive for wildlife. Many individuals, groups and schools, like Silverstream Primary, are making a real difference by supporting urban biodiversity and creating homes for wildlife. We urge everyone to continue the great work! For more information on biodiversity in our area and to download the Biodiversity Action Plan please visit: www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk
Carrickfergus in Bloom Winners Honoured at Prize-Giving (31 October 2014)
Community floral and artistic creativity was recognised by the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative organised by Carrickfergus Borough Council. The local ‘Best Kept’ competition winners and runners received their well earned certificates and prizes at a prize-giving lunch in Carrickfergus Town Hall today (Friday 31st October) with over 90 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. Brighter Whitehead received the top prize in the Best Kept Community Planting Scheme. See photo from event in our gallery.
Whitehead Success at Gardening Oscars (16 October 2014)
Carrickfergus Borough has scooped two Silver Gilt awards at the 50th Britain in Bloom UK Final awards in Bristol. Britain in Bloom is Europe’s biggest community gardening campaign run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Carrickfergus was successful in the Large Town category and Whitehead scooped another Silver Gilt in the Small Town category.
Bill Pollock, Chairperson of Brighter Whitehead who also attended the ceremony said “Britain in Bloom is a magnificent opportunity for Whitehead to enhance its surroundings and create beautiful displays that are enjoyed by everybody. Our ‘in bloom’ campaign is much more than flowers and making the town look good for one day; instead it is a 365 day initiative that looks at sustainable development and biodiversity, conservation and recycling, local environmental quality, permanent landscaping, and public awareness of the environment. I would encourage everybody interested in our campaign to visit the Brighter Whitehead website (www.brighterwhitehead.co.uk) for further details on our campaign and how you can help us next year.
Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer who attended the ceremony which was held at the Bristol Marriott City Centre and was attended by almost 400 community gardening champions, said “This is a wonderful accolade for the Borough. It is the result of much hard work and no-one should underestimate the amount of effort which has gone into this campaign by all our partners. Our Borough's successes could not have happened without the generous support of local people, businesses and schools; and statuary bodies such as Carrickfergus Borough Council, the Housing Executive and Department of Regional Development.”
Commenting on the experience of taking part in Britain in Bloom 2014, Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks and Countryside Sub Committee of Carrickfergus Borough Council stated: “Once again we have benefitted immensely from participating in Europe’s premier horticultural awards scheme. From an aesthetical perspective, the Borough’s planting schemes are looking tremendously well. However, on a more important note, it is the immense community and voluntary participation and support of our initiatives, at creating and maintaining our blooming borough on an all year round basis that is pivotal in our ability to take part in this prestigious competition. I would like to commend all who took part in this year’s initiative.”
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 Hal 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: horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation
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.
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.
Community Orchard Planting Day (23rd February 2014)
Fruit Tree Planting Event on Sunday 23rd February 2014, starting at 1pm in Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood. A full-on family event so, apart from the tree-planting, there’ll be guided walks, artistic endeavours and other attractions. Experts on hand to tell you the stories of the trees, show you how to forage food for free, teach you how to keep a hedge under control. We’ll help you to build your own bird-box, hang some feeders and make a leaf-print. This event is organised by Transition Town Whitehead.
Turning plastic bags into apples: The government's 'carrier bag levy' was started in April 2013; it meant you had to pay a 5p charge when you chose to take a shop's plastic bag with your groceries. This has raised over £3m since then, much of which has been channelled into the NI Environment Agency's NGO Challenge Fund, available to community and voluntary organisations for environmental projects. Transition Town Whitehead has been one of the beneficiaries; and received a grant of almost £8,500 from the fund for their 'Edible Landscape' project. With the ready co-operation of Carrickfergus Borough Council, who manage Diamond Jubilee Wood. They intend to plant a sustainable and edible community orchard in the Diamond Jubilee Wood. The grant has enabled them to buy almost 200 fruit and nut trees - apples, pears, cherries, damsons, walnut, hazelnut - and a mixture of berry bushes. Within a few years, these trees will be bearing fruit, for the benefit of everyone who visits the wood and, indeed, for the bird population as well.
Jim Kitchen, from Transition Town Whitehead, said, "Planting these trees this year is our investment in the future. In a few years' time, we'll literally be able to use the fruits of our labour by making puddings, jams and chutneys from the produce of this orchard. We hope this is the first step in what will become an edible landscape - over the next few years, we can add beehives, fruiting hedgerows and, maybe one day, a full scale community allotment scheme. So, why don't you come along and help us take the first steps. It's all happening on Sunday 23rd February from 1pm to about 4pm. If it's still raining, put on your boots and waterproofs, bring a spade if you have one, and join us for this planting party. You don't need to know anything about planting trees; you just need a wee bit of enthusiasm.
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.”
Young & Old Growing Together (4th November 2013)
Groups from Whitehead and beyond have been ‘Growing Together’ at Diamond Jubilee Wood in Whitehead. Groups taking part include Brighter Whitehead, Whitehead Primary School, Whitehead Transition Town, Conservation Volunteers (NI), Carrickfergus Community Cultivators and students from the Northern Regional College Prince’s Trust. At the Diamond Jubilee Wood the groups will be planting 100 Apple Trees.
‘Growing Together’ is an environmental based intergenerational project supported by the European Union’s PEACE III CAN Partnership to carry out community activities in Whitehead. The project aims to bring different generations together and actively encourages the breaking down of barriers between older and younger people, while challenging negative stereotypes and behaviour.
Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of Carrickfergus Borough Council’s Parks and Countryside Sub Committee said “In the busy society of today, young and old are often strangers to each other as they don’t have the same opportunities which existed in the past to communicate and participate in activities together. The ‘Growing Together’ project demonstrates that older and younger generations have a great deal to offer each other in terms of knowledge and experience. The benefit of working together on this project gives them a better understanding and tolerance of other age groups, with the local community gaining from the apple tree planting.”
Gerry Drake, Northern Regional College Programme Co-ordinator, commenting on the success of the project said; “As part of the Prince’s Trust 12-week course at the college, students complete a community project which develops their team and employability skills and at the same time, allowing them to give something back to their local community. This intergenerational project, in partnership with Carrickfergus Borough Council, provided an ideal opportunity for the young people to communicate and work alongside other age groups.”
Success for Borough at Ulster in Bloom (10th September 2013)
The results of the 2013 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition were announced today 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.
Biodiversity Summer School (Monday 5th to Friday 9th August 2013)
This Biodiversity Summer School will give families the opportunity to take part in fun bioviversity projects such as pond dipping, mini-beast hunts and bird box building. Learn about the natural world through a variety of activities and games. It runs from Monday 5th to Friday 9th August 2013 – every morning from 11am to 1pm at Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead. Meet at Bentra Car Park, Slaughterford Road, Whitehead. The Biodiversity Summer School is a FREE outdoor event. Please wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear. Under 16's must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Day 1: Bird and bat box making. Families will be supported to build and decorate bird and bat boxes, following a set template. The event will include practical team working with hand tools, learning how the importance of protecting our native birds and bat and instruction where to place and how to monitor your bird and bat box.
Day 2:Pond dipping. Dipping in the pond to catch pond life, using identification charts to identify the variety of life to assess the health of the pond. Learning will include ways to increase the variety of pond life, and how to protect our ponds.
Day 3: Mini-beast hunt and identification. Walk through woodland to hunt for mini-beasts and use identification charts to identify to variety of mini-beasts at the site. Highlight the types and variety of places mini-beasts live, with support from an entomologist. We also have a display of various native and non-native insects.
Day 4: Mini-beast natural homes on site and take home 'Bug Hostels'. Create bug hotels within the woodland from natural materials and making bug hostels from recycled materials to take home to attract increased number and variety of bugs and insects in their own garden. The event will highlight the important role bugs and insects have in nature, easy steps to increase and protect them and recycling message.
Day 5: Wildflower identification and seed bombing. Walk through woodlands identifying the variety of wildflowers and their preferred growing place. To enhance the number of wildflowers make seed bombs from mud and native wildflower seed mix then 'bomb' into suitable areas of the woodland.
Please note the above details may be subject to change without notice. Check the Council website for updates.
Barnacles Beaches and Rock Pools (Saturday 3 August 2013)
Meeting outside Whitehead Recreation Grounds Play Park, then walk to Blackhead Path.Discover the biodiversity rich coast along the Blackhead Path. This outdoor event is free; please wear suitable outdoor clothing and shoes. Date: Saturday 3 August - Time: 2 to 4pm. Venue: Blackhead Path. Part of Love Parks Week.
Wildflower Walk on at Diamond Jubilee Wood (29th July 2013)
Discover the wildflowers of Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead on Monday 29 July 2013 from 7 to 9pm. This outdoor event is free; please wear suitable outdoor clothing and shoes. Meeting at Bentra Car Park. Part of Love Parks Week.
Celebrating the Heritage of the Hedgerow (23rd February 2013)
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com
Launch of Tree Week (23rd November 2012)
Alderman 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: firstname.lastname@example.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.
Carrickfergus in Bloom winners honoured at prize-giving (26 October 2012)
Floral and artistic 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, with over 100 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 our Boroughs citizens. This year over 1,400 people battled the wet summer weather and economic downturn to create some beautiful colourful 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 partners that have made Carrickfergus in Bloom such a success. Conservation Volunteers, The Woodland Trust, Translink, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Department of Regional Development and many others have all helped to improve the environment of Carrickfergus Borough this year". Ended Alderman Beattie
See list of prize winners here: www.carrickfergusinbloom.org.
Rose Award Success for Borough (13 September 2012)
Carrickfergus 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
Official Opening of Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood (23rd June 2012)
Mrs. Joan Christie OBE, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim officially opened Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood today (Saturday 23rd June 2012 at 11am). The opening was followed by a family fun day that includes arts and crafts, storytelling, face painting, a bug hunt plus many other activities on a brimming woodland agenda – and all free of charge. With a wealth of fun activities on offer, it was an unmissable and historic day for everyone.
In total 60 Diamond Jubilee Woods have been planted throughout the UK. Each wood is at least 60 acres in size to symbolise 60 years of The Queen's reign. Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood is the only Diamond Jubilee Wood planted in Northern Ireland.
Alderman Jim McClurg, Mayor of Carrickfergus explained "In April 2011 our Council received a presentation about the Jubilee Woods project by the Woodland Trust. We answered Princess Anne's direct appeal to join in the celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by planting a new 60-acre woodland in Whitehead. We called upon the local community to help with the labour of planting, which began in January 2012. Together, in the words of Princess Anne "we can create something lasting and wonderful. We are pleased to have supported this Woodland Trust UK wide project and have been most appreciative of the support given to us by Patrick Gregg and his team at the Woodland Trust."
"Although the champagne bubbles have faded from the thousands of street parties that took place over the Jubilee weekend, this Diamond Jubilee Wood will continue quietly growing. This is a project which will be best appreciated by our children and grandchildren. During the Queen's long reign, second only to Queen Victoria, she has planted thousands of trees. Those trees form a tangible part of her legacy. Our Diamond Jubilee Wood will form part of ours and will be a very fitting tribute to her."
"This Diamond Jubilee Wood is Carrickfergus Borough Council' most ambitious environmental project to date. It will link the existing mature oak and ask woods nearby. These are of great age and to complement and extend them, this new woodland contains mainly oak and ask trees. In addition, we have planted rowan, willow, alder, cherry, hazel, hawthorn and blackthorn to provide a diverse wildlife habitat which will be enjoyed for many years to come." ended Alderman McClurg
Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities sub-committee said "The creation of this new woodland has been an excellent example of partnership and we have so many people to thank including our funders Northern Ireland Forest Service, GROW South Antrim, BIFFA & the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. I would also like to thank the thousands of individuals who took part in the various tree planting events last winter. We now have a woodland with 60,000 trees planted, a 2km of path network, a 1000sqm pond that is already teaming with wildlife. Other attractions include a Commonwealth Tree Avenue planted with copper beech; wildflower meadows, picnic area and a sculpture designed by artist Kevin Killen and local school children."
Patrick Cregg, the Woodland Trust's Director in Northern Ireland, says: "We're delighted that Northern Ireland is on the map of Diamond Jubilee Woods. We're extremely grateful to Carrickfergus Borough Council for making the land available, and we're heartened by the enthusiasm of members of the public who helped to plant thousands of trees earlier this year. The wood will be a wonderful natural resource for local people and visitors, and a much-needed habitat for our precious wildlife."
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)
The ‘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."