Towns and villages in the Ballymena area are being urged to enter the Northern Ireland Best Kept Awards in the competition’s 60th anniversary year.
Towns and villages from around Ballymena have enjoyed success in the competition in the past, not least Broughshane which, with 15 titles to its name, holds the distinction of having more category wins than anywhere else.
Among last year’s winners meanwhile were Ahoghill and Randalstown. Gracehill has won the best small village title on many occasions including three years in a row from 1990-1992.
The initiative seeks to identify and celebrate Northern Ireland’s best looked-after towns, villages, schools, healthcare facilities and housing areas.
First established in 1957, the competition has grown over the years and now includes 89 awards across six categories.
George Best Belfast City Airport has been announced as the new partner for the annual event, which is organised by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council (NIAC).
Joe Mahon, Patron of the NIAC, said: “This is a special year for everyone involved with the Best Kept Awards.
“The competition brings together a host of enthusiastic volunteers from across the country, all with the common goal of fostering civic pride and improving their local community.
For many towns and villages, the programme represents a highlight of the year, and the chance to see the coveted Best Kept sign erected in their communities ensures the competitive spirit is always strong. We are anticipating over 500 entries this year and would encourage everyone to take part.”
In the six decades since its inception, around 150,000 volunteers have taken part in the event, with 10,000 entries submitted in the past 20 years alone.
Eglinton came out on top in the inaugural year, while amongst last year’s winners were Ahoghill (Large Village), Randalstown (Small Town), and Antrim (Large Town).
Michelle Hatfield of Belfast City Airport, said: “We look forward to seeing the hundreds of entries from across the country for this year’s competition.”
Entries to the Best Kept Awards, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport, are now open. For more information on how to enter an awards category, please visit www.niacbestkept.com or call the NIAC on 028 9040 3681.