Best Kept NI Awards are back in bloom after two year hiatus

Community groups and gardening enthusiasts in Ballymena and Antrim will be delighted to see the return of the Northern Ireland Amenity Council’s Best Kept NI Awards today, following a two-year pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In times past, local towns and villages including Ahoghill and Broughshane have shone brightly in the competition and taken home the silver to prove it.

2022 sees the return of several of the award categories including the Best Kept City, Town, Village and Housing Awards, sponsored by Belfast City Airport. The Best Kept Community Achiever Award category will also resume this year, with judges seeking to honour someone passionate about their environment who motivates and inspires others and who goes the extra mile to make a positive difference in improving their surroundings for their community.

Doreen Muskett, President of the NIAC, said: “We were so disappointed when we had to suspend the 2020 Awards, for the first time in their 63-year history. If one good thing has come out of lockdown, it was that gardening became one of the heroes of the crisis. It was heart-warming to learn that taking time in the garden helped so many people cope during the months of social isolation. So many people were able to gain a sense of peace and well-being through nature, and our amazing community champions continued to make their areas better places to live and work, throughout this tough time.”

Winner of the overall Best of the Best 2017 Category of the NI Best Kept Awards is Ahoghill. Dave Foster, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Joe Mahon, Patron of the NI Amenity Council, Michelle Hatfield, Human Resources and Corporate Responsibility Director at Belfast City Airport and Doreen Muskett, President of the NI Amenity Council, present Mid and East Antrim Lord Mayor, Councillor Paul Reid and Trevor Logan, Ahoghill Traders Association with their award. Following its win in the Large Village category, the judges found Ahoghill to be the overall winner thanks to its well-maintained and presented areas and floral displays.

Ms Muskett added: “We’re hoping to see this newfound love of gardening translate into lots of entries from people and communities who have experienced all the positive benefits of getting into nature and growing flowers, fruit and vegetables for the first time.”

Stephen Patton, Human Resources and CR Manager at George Best Belfast City Airport said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have the Best Kept Awards back in action this year after a short hiatus due to the global pandemic. “Throughout our long-standing partnership with the Best Kept Awards, we have seen some fantastic entries to the competition and outstanding efforts by people across Northern Ireland to enhance the places they work, live, and play. Whilst the past two years have been challenging, they have brought a real sense of togetherness and community spirit, and we cannot wait to see how that civic pride translates into entries this year.”

This year will also see the Best Kept Awards join with TidyTowns in the South of Ireland for the 25th Year, to celebrate ‘Ireland’s Best Kept Town’, at Titanic Hotel Belfast, in June.

Entries are nos open and the closing date for The Best Kept Town, Village and Housing Area Awards closes on May 1.

For more information on how to enter go to www.bestkeptawardsni.com or call the NI Amenity Council on 028 9040 3681.