Volunteers are blooming great

John Small from Ahoghill won 'Volunteer of the Year In Bloom 2019'
John Small from Ahoghill won 'Volunteer of the Year In Bloom 2019'

In Bloom community competition winners have been announced in the Volunteer of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Contribution categories.

Entries from Ahoghill and Cullybackey have been recognised in the categories which make up part of the Mid and East Antrim in Bloom Community competitions, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, has revealed.

Bertie McNeilly was announced winner in the 'Outstanding Contribution' category.

Bertie McNeilly was announced winner in the 'Outstanding Contribution' category.

She said: “These awards are specifically for the individuals, groups or business who have shown long term commitment to improving their local community via clean ups, green ups, and in bloom activities, and who go above and beyond for the Borough.

“I am delighted to announce the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ is John Small from Ahoghill. John is one of the founding members of the Ahoghill Traders’ Association who have been co-ordinating the Ahoghill in Bloom initiative over the last 12 years. John commits an enormous amount of time and energy into improving the village via grass cutting, watering and clean ups and can be seen out and about from as early as 7am. John is directly responsible for much of the fundraising activity for Ahoghill in Bloom and raises huge amounts annually which goes back into the village. John was nominated by his colleagues in Ahoghill in Bloom who never cease to be amazed at his dedication, selflessness and passion for the village.

“The ‘Young Volunteer of the Year’ is Abbie Hill from Larne. Abbie has been helping out in Larne Renovation Generation since its formation in 2016 by watering, weeding and planting, but Abbie especially enjoys litter picking. Abbie joins in with all community litter picks as well as litter picking in her own street and local green spaces such as Linn Glen. Abbie is also a champion of recycling and keeps plastic bottles, cans and glass separate to recycle properly at home after all clean-ups. Abbie was nominated by grandmother Lynda who wants everyone know how wonderfully community spirited Abbie is.

“Finally, the ‘Outstanding Contribution to in Bloom’ award goes to Bertie McNeilly from Cullybackey. Bertie has been a driving force of the Cullybackey Community Partnership for many years. Bertie has a vivid imagination and is a talented craftsman and has created unique features for the village including the ‘big man’ President Arthur and the ‘Maine Works’ reflecting Cullybackey heritage. Bertie has sown thousands of wildflower seeds which have bloomed into beautiful urban wildflower meadows attracting bees and butterfly, and inspires and encourages other volunteers along the way including the “930 club”, local school, scouts, cadets and girl guides. Bertie was nominated by colleagues in the Cullybackey Community Partnership who say he is one in a million and can be seen out working every day for the good of the village. This really shows what ‘in bloom’ is all about - working to improve our borough for residents and visitors via clean ups, green ups, biodiversity and community initiatives.”

All winners will be invited to an awards ceremony in October.