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Mid and East Antrim

Blooming Best in the Borough Announced

Gardening for Wildlife Winner - Irene McKay Islandmagee

Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, has announced the winners and runners-up in Mid and East Antrim’s In Bloom Community Competition.  The categories included: Best Kept Front Garden, Best Kept Front Container Garden, Best Kept Community Planting Scheme, Best Kept Allotment Garden, Best Kept Commercial Premises, and the Gardening for Wildlife Award.

Cllr McCaughey said: “Through Councils ‘In Bloom’ campaign we encourage everyone in the Borough to think about their local environment and how flowers, plants and gardens can enhance it for people and wildlife. By actively supporting our ‘In Bloom’ campaign and competitions residents not only make their garden, school or business more attractive but can boost tourism and the economy in their local areas.

“Although it’s been another strange and difficult year for many of us, there has been a large rise in interest in gardening. With more people still staying at home, many have been spending more time outside in local green space and in gardens. This is great to see as gardening can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. Gardening can improve cognitive functioning and emotional well-being; can reduce depression, anxiety, obesity and heart disease; increase life satisfaction, quality of life and sense of community; and support recovery from illness, reduce stress, blood pressure and muscle tension. As well as all this, blooming gardens are a delight to the senses for owners and passers-by alike, and bring some much needed cheer.

“I have been really impressed with the quality of entrants to the competition this year from all across the Borough. It has been a great opportunity for me to see the variety of horticultural talent we have here. The Borough is still in bloom despite a summer of mixed weather.

“Well done everyone and please keep up the great work.”

The 2021 Mid and East Antrim In Bloom Community Competition winners and runners-up are as follows:

Best Kept Front Garden

Winner: Sarah Bandy, Islandmagee

Runner up: Leslie Spearman, Whitehead

Runner up: Claire Gillespie, Ballymena

Runner up: Tanya Tweed, Larne

Best Kept Front Container Garden

Winner: Jackie Wilson, Glenarm

Runner up: Philomena Corey, Carrickfergus

Runner up: Sheelagh McCool, Carrickfergus

Runner up: James McMurray, Whitehead

Best Community Planting Scheme

Winner: Tullagh Community Garden, Ballymena

Runner up: Island Community Garden, Islandmagee

Runner up: The Olive Tree Community Garden Eden, Carrickfergus

Best Kept Allotment Garden

Winner: Christine Gibson, Larne Allotment Gardens

Runner up: Sharon Thoburn, Eden Allotment Gardens

Runner up: Richard Plunkett, Greenisland Allotment Gardens

Best Kept Commercial Premises

Winner: Ballycairn House, Ballygally

Runner up: Steady Eddie, Larne

Runner up: Galgorm Care Home, Ballymena

Gardening for Wildlife Award

Winner: Irene McKay, Islandmagee

Runner up: Christine Harper, Carrickfergus

Runner up: Stephen Heron, Broughshane

Cllr McCaughey concluded: “I would also like to remind everyone that the Blooming Creative (Painting, Poetry and Sculpture) and the Best School Gardening Project Competitions remain open until 30 September.”

Mid and East Antrim

Support your Local Craftspeople this Christmas

Support our local #MEArtists and craftspeople this Christmas  – that’s the message from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as the Borough prepares for the busy Christmas shopping period in the weeks ahead.

Following a motion which was brought to Council by Alderman Audrey Wales MBE, Council is encouraging shoppers to consider purchasing handmade arts and craft produce as gifts for friends and family this year.

Alderman Wales said: “In Mid and East Antrim we are blessed with a wonderful array of exceptionally talented artists and craftspeople, each producing exquisite, artisan crafts and produce.

“Their wares make for the most thoughtful gifts for any occasion – be it a special ‘piece of home’ for friends or family living abroad, or simply a beautiful display of intricate craftmanship, often using materials sourced from across the Borough.

“Our local artists and craftspeople are crucial to the culture and heritage of Mid and East Antrim and, as they continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic, we are encouraging local shoppers this Christmas to show their support by giving the gift of local craft,” she continued.

“Council, too, remains strongly committed to doing everything we possibly can to support our local artists and craftspeople, and to encouraging a thriving arts scene in Mid and East Antrim.”

The work of several local craftspeople is exhibited and available to purchase in the Visitor Information Centre at Council’s Ballymena headquarters at The Braid, including:

  • Vera McCullough Jewellery – bespoke jewellery inspired by Slemish Mountain, the surrounding Antrim Hills and the lush Northern Irish countryside. Vera was commissioned to design a brooch and cufflinks to be presented to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to Mid and East Antrim in 2019.
  • WB Woodcraft –items crafted from local, exotic and reclaimed wood and materialsThe range includes birdhouses and feeders, fairy doors and houses, wooden bells, Christmas decorations and postboxes.
  • Lucy Craig Textiles – heritage items such as letters, photographs and other memorabilia preserved onto textiles and combined with hand embroidery to enhance and personalise the work.
  • Country Slate Gifts –unique handmade slate gifts for the home and garden, all of which can be tailored to specific customer requirements.
  • Precious Pebble Art – custom made art and gifts for every occasion, made using local pebbles collected from the North Coast.

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Mid and East Antrim

Carrickfergus Castle Children’s Book Depicts its History through the Eyes of a Child

A Carrickfergus grandfather’s adventures with his grandson have inspired the release of a new book called ‘Danny’s Visit to Carrickfergus Castle’.

Bob Harper, from the town, has written the book after many visits to the castle with his grandson prompted questions about its history.

The book details interesting facts and also is beautifully illustrated by Bob.

It takes children on a journey through the castle allowing them to learn as they go.

Speaking about its launch, Bob said he wanted to depict the history of the castle through a child’s eyes and make it an easy, enjoyable learning experience.

“I enjoy many adventures with my grandson around Carrickfergus which is steeped in history, none more so than the stunning Carrickfergus Castle,” Bob said.

“I wanted to create a book for children that would make it enjoyable for them to learn and give them facts that they would always remember.”

The book talks about how Carrickfergus was named after the Rock of Fergus and about the famous knight, John de Courcy, who built the majestic castle which proudly sits on Belfast Lough.

Alderman Billy Ashe MBE congratulated Bob on the publication said it was an “excellent concept for a story and a great way to educate our children on the history of the borough”.

“We are always trying to promote civic engagement for our younger generation and this book is a perfect way to do that,” he added.

‘Danny’s Visit to Carrickfergus Castle’ will be available for purchase in Visitor Centres across the borough at a cost of £5.

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