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BallymenaNI News

Mid & East Antrim : Whitehead misses out on chance to represent NI

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Whitehead has missed out on a chance to represent Northern Ireland at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Community Awards to be held later this year.

The awards will be replacing the annual Britain in Bloom competition which has been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.

They are being organised to enable the RHS to “celebrate the work that In Bloom groups have been doing when the judges are unable to go on tour”.

Ballymena and Cullybackey have been put forward by the borough council after winning their respective categories at the Ulster in Bloom Awards in 2019 but there will be no representation from Larne or Carrickfergus areas.

Whitehead was placed first in the Floral Station Award with Glenarm ranking third in the Best Village Award in 2019.

Speaking at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the council’s Direct Services Committee, Coast Road Ulster Unionist Councillor Maureen Morrow said she was “disappointed” there are two representatives from the Ballymena area while “Whitehead did amazing work as well”.

She said that while the Ballymena representatives have done “marvellous work”, it is “disappointing that a place like Whitehead will not get the opportunity to do it”.

“It would be nice to see Whitehead get the opportunity,” she added.

In 2019, Ballymena won first place in the Best Large Town/Small City Award with Cullybackey receiving first place in the Best Large Village Award and Ahoghill receiving second place in the Best Small Town Award.

Brighter Whitehead started as a small group of six in 1995 and has grown to more than 30 volunteers with their own polytunnels and a branded vehicle.

Bill Pollock, chairman of Brighter Whitehead, said: “We have done well over the years and we have had other opportunities. The council has been good to us. I have no complaint.”

Brighter Whitehead received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2019.

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