An appeal to civic pride has been issued as Carrickfergus seeks to build on a record prize haul in the Ulster in Bloom challenge.
Guests at the Andrew Jackson Centre on Friday afternoon heard how the borough landed five awards at the 2013 province-wide competition with Carrickfergus and Whitehead also in the running for Britain in Bloom.
School and community representatives gathered at the Boneybefore location for the launch of Carrickfergus in Bloom were urged by a young gardening enthusiast to play their part over the coming weeks.
Ross Lough, a Year 11 pupil at Downshire School, delivered the launch address after a light-hearted exchange with Alderman May Beattie, chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities sub-committee, saw him thrust centre stage.
Alderman Beattie explained the change in role came about while she was chatting with pupils from the school’s horticulture class. “I joked would any of them like to help with my speech and Ross said ‘I will do it’,” said Mrs Beattie.
The lunchtime garden party took place in glorious sunshine to the sounds of the APEX Jazz Band. Praising Ross for his contribution, Alderman Beattie added: “He can always say he spoke in front of 50 people. The school will be proud of him.”
Highlighting an initiative which attracts around 1,800 participants, Ross stated: “Carrickfergus hosted the Translink Ulster in Bloom awards ceremony this year and as hosts we notched up no less than five awards, the most the borough has ever achieved in some twenty years of competing. Additionally, both Carrickfergus and Whitehead have been nominated to represent the province in the prestigious 2014 Britain in Bloom Awards in the ‘Large Town’ and ‘Small Town’ categories respectively.
“Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to our local Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. This year the challenge
goes out to everybody who lives and works within the Borough of Carrickfergus. 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.
“These competitions not only brighten up our borough but have been fundamental to our success in Ulster in Bloom. Let’s make 2014 another winning year for our borough.”
(launch pics on page 22)