Brighter Whitehead News

Local Gardening Talent Recognised at Translink Ulster in Bloom Awards (5th April 2017)

Whitehead has some of the best gardening talent in Northern Ireland and that’s official. Bill Pollock, of Brighter Whitehead, who won the Community Champion. Mr. Pollock won the award in recognition of the “lasting and positive difference he has made to his local area by embracing the Ulster in Bloom ethos”.This is the 38th year of the annual horticultural competition which “celebrates Northern Ireland’s top gardening talent and their beautiful plant and floral displays”. here was further success in Whitehead. The town was second in the Small Town category of the Translink Ulster in Bloom Awards. Whitehead also scooped the Community Rail Halt category. Speaking at the awards, Translink Chairman Frank Hewitt said: “Congratulations to all the Translink Ulster in Bloom champions. As we approach the 40th anniversary year, it’s wonderful to see the competition’s continued appeal with 156 entries covering all 11 council areas.“Like Translink, Ulster in Bloom connects people in local communities right across Northern Ireland and aims to make local villages, towns and cities more attractive places to live and visit, boosting civic pride.

‘Saintly’ Business Volunteers help out Jubilee Wood (16th March 2017)

Volunteers from the business world have been ‘saints’ by helping to improve the environment for the Borough’s community and wildlife, as well as building-up their own skills. The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, has commended volunteers who came out in support of the innovative ‘Be a Saint Day’, a Business in the Community initiative which takes place each year on the 16 March. Cllr Wales said: “Be a Saint Day’ is a Business in the Community initiative, in partnership with Volunteer Now and sponsored by food retailer, Spar, and is an annual day of volunteering which encourages employers to release their employees for a day to get involved in practical tasks. “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has wholeheartedly supported the initiative for the last number of years. This year, we had a great number of hardworking volunteers out in our green spaces across the Borough, and I would personally like to thank them for their time and efforts,” she said. Volunteers from software company Liberty IT carried out essential tree maintenance in Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead. 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.

Woollen Woods 2017 Launch (5th April 2017)

Are you a keen knitter? Are you crafty and creative? If so, you may like to get involved in our Woollen Woods project. Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead is the only Woollen Wood in Ireland! The Woollen Woods project, in partnership with Lighthouse Yarns, has been running since 2015 with hundreds of woodland-themed artworks, created by schools, knitting groups and individuals, installed in the wood each year and celebrated with a Grand Opening and fun day on site. We always welcome donations and your creation will be displayed in the woods for our 2017 Grand Opening and fun day on Saturday 24 June, 1pm – 4pm. The theme this year is 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', but any woodland themed creations are welcome. Please send your crafty contributions to: Woollen Woods Lighthouse Yarns Edward Road Whitehead BT38 9PT You can also visit https://en-gb.facebook.com/lighthouseyarns/ to find free patterns.

WHALE WATCHING EVENT at Portmuck on Sunday 26th March

Did you know our coast is home to a wide range of marine life including dolphin, porpoise and minke whale? Come and learn about our fascinating marine mammals at this whale watch with expert Ian Enlander on Sunday 26 March, 2pm – 5pm, Portmuck, Islandmagee. We will be on site all afternoon, but please feel free to just drop in and out. Please bring along binoculars or spotting scopes if you have them.

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 (29th 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.

Event Details:

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.”

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