The coastal town of Whitehead is already renowned for being home to one of the most famous lighthouses in the UK, but with the arrival of a second in recent weeks, there’s even more reason for the local community to feel proud!
Thanks to the efforts of Brighter Whitehead volunteers and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s PEACE IV funding programme, a new nine-foot display has been situated along the town’s Larne Road.
Anyone lucky enough to enjoy Ballymena’s Urban Beach last summer – a fantastic 65,454 flocked to the People’s Park attraction over three months – may recognise the new arrival to Whitehead, as it is the exact same lighthouse which is now keeping watch over the waters of Belfast Lough.
All the materials used to build the Urban Beach have been re-purposed and upcycled throughout the borough, with many going directly to community groups, community gardens and Men’s Sheds.
Mayor Cllr Maureen Morrow said: “In summer 2019 the beach came to Ballymena as part of the European Union’s PEACE IV ‘Your Place Our Space’ programme. The Peoples Park Urban Beach was designed by Ian Price and included 220 tonnes of sand and coastal features such as beach huts, tropical planting and miniature lighthouse.
“The number of visitors to the People’s Park from July to September 2019 was up by 33% on previous years, and I hope the lighthouse will be just as attractive to people in its new location at Whitehead.
“The reuse of all the materials not only ensures sustainability of the PEACE IV programme but enables the many fantastic community groups and volunteers across Mid and East Antrim to improve our borough in creative ways.”
Bill Pollock, Chair of Brighter Whitehead, said: “We are delighted to welcome another lighthouse to Whitehead. The town is famous for Blackhead Lighthouse, which was built in 1902 and is one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland.
“Whitehead was historically a popular seaside resort and we hope to reference its great coastal heritage in this new display, which includes sand, coastal planting and lighthouse. We are also working on some cheerful ‘Welcome to Whitehead’ signage.
“Brighter Whitehead have entered the Ulster in Bloom and Britain in Bloom competitions many times over the years. We will enter again in 2020 and hope the new lighthouse display will help us win gold. Look out for more new displays in town over the coming months!”
Bill also encouraged new members to get in touch.
“As always, we are happy to welcome new members”, he said.
“We volunteers meet once a week, every Tuesday, come rain or shine. You do not need any specific horticultural skills, there are jobs for all levels of experience and abilities. You just need the will to make Whitehead a brighter place to live, work and visit.”
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been awarded £3.1m funding through the PEACE IV Programme. Match funding for this project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
Your Place Our Space, delivered by Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Service, is an exciting inter-generational environmental project, focusing on the shared sustained use of outdoor spaces across the borough. The project is part of Council’s ‘Local Authority Action Plan’, funded by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).