Ballymena has been crowned one of the UK’s best large towns, taking gold at the prestigious UK-wide Britain in Bloom Awards.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s annual Britain in Bloom awards ceremony was held in Belfast recently.
Ballymena was among five areas chosen to fly the flag for Northern Ireland following success in the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition last year.
A total of 76 groups from across the UK competed in 12 categories with each also vying for a gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze award.
On the night, Ballymena was awarded a gold medal – the highest possible and reflecting an extremely high standard.
The town was also recognised for its commitment to wildlife, including its management of woodland habitats and involvement in a bird ringing scheme to gather information on migratory birds.
Speaking after the event, Councillor Stephen Nicholl, who represents council on Ballymena Business Improvement District, said: “Gold in the Britain in Bloom Awards is a wonderful achievement and is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of all involved.
“It is fantastic to see what can be achieved when communities, businesses and council work together. I am incredibly proud.Thanks also to our staff who are wholeheartedly committed to ensuring our borough is the best it can be for the local community, visitors, and wildlife, all year round.”
Councillor Audrey Wales MBE added: “I am delighted that Ballymena has won this hugely prestigious title at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom competition to be named among the best of the best across the UK, for the second year in a row.
“By actively supporting our ‘In Bloom’ campaigns and community competitions residents not only brighten our borough but have enabled our towns and villages to go on to achieve great success.
“A huge thank-you to all our volunteers and local businesses who give up so much of their time to plant floral displays, improve areas for biodiversity, keep the town clean and tidy and ‘green the grey’ by brightening up previously forgotten corners.
“Special thanks must also go to the Ballymena Business Improvement District for supplementing and supporting the work of council, and to the many businesses in the Borough who maintain the town’s roundabouts and support the In Bloom campaign through sponsorship initiatives.”