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Mid and East Antrim

Cullybackey Recognised as Blooming Outstanding

In place of the Britain in Bloom Finals Tour, this year, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) expert panels considered 118 digitally submitted projects across five categories that recognised distinct aspects of community gardening. Each entry demonstrated a clear dedication to supporting, transforming, and connecting communities through the power of horticulture.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, said: “This week, the RHS announced that 21 projects have been recognised as particularly outstanding for their work. I am delighted to say that Cullybackey has been recognised as outstanding in the ‘Cultivating your Community’ category. 

“With 118 towns and villages competing across the UK, this is a marvellous achievement and I would like to congratulate the Cullybackey Community Partnership (CCP) and Council’s Parks and Open Spaces team, who have been working together for several years to transform Cullybackey into the award winning village it now is.”

During the pandemic, Council was able to opened a new playpark and MUGA in Tober Park Cullybackey and deliver on new outdoor gym equipment along the Maine Riverwide Walk, both thanks to funding from DAERA. New signage was also installed along the Riverside Walk highlighting important biodiversity on site.

Cllr McCaughey continued: “These green space improvements would have been hugely important to residents given many gyms and leisure facilities being closed for prolonged periods in 2020 and 2021. The good work continues as Council is currently exploring options for a 14k path network in partnership with Galgorm Resort and Spa which would link Cullybackey, Galgorm and Ecos Nature Park in Ballymena.”

In conjunction with all the Council activities, Culybackey Community Partnership was working closely with the community to help them to adapt to the impact that covid was having on their lives.

Margaret Murphy, Secretary of CCP, said: “During 2020 and 2021,at the height of the COVID pandemic, volunteers had to quickly adapt and worked on a range of projects which engaged with the whole village and new groups that CCP had not previously had the pleasure of working with. Projects delivered throughout 2020 and 2021 included delivering food parcels, delivering GYO kits to residents, delivering GYO kits to pupils via Buick Memorial Primary and The Diamond Primary School, delivering a community knitting/crotched flower project, delivering health and wellbeing sessions via zoom and providing iPads to residents without the means to take part in these sessions. CCP volunteers also installed two new bronze horse sculptures and continued to carry out essential horticultural maintenance including weeding, watering and clean ups.”

Paul Christie, Chair of CCP, continued: “As well as all this CCP continued to manage the Maine Business Centre, as per government guidelines, as a form of income which then helped to fund bloom activities. We also continued to source external funding streams to deliver community initiatives in the village.

“We are delighted to be recognized by the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom judges as ‘outstanding’ in our field. As well as the RHS commendation, CCP won the Green Flag Community Award for Shellinghill Park and Millennium Walk in both 2020 and 2021, and received the NIHE province wide Community Spirit Award in 2021. I would like to thank each and every one of the CCP volunteers for their dedication and efforts during a difficult few years, and I’d like to thank Council for their continued support.”

Kay Clarke, RHS Community Development Manager, said: “It has been fantastic to see so many projects enter this digital programme. For many groups this was the very first time they had used the medium of film to tell stories about their work. It has been heartening to hear that groups and their volunteers have managed to carry on supporting their communities in safe ways, even in the depths of the pandemic. Huge congratulations to everyone that entered, they were an inspiration to us all.”

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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