Pictured: People's Park

Five of Mid and East Antrim’s parks and open spaces has received a coveted Green Flag Award for 2021.

Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen, Carrickfergus Mill Ponds, Shaftesbury Park & Marine Gardens, Diamond Jubilee Wood,  Dixon Park and The People’s Park have all been awarded Green Flag status with Cullbackey Community Partnership also picking up a Green Flag Community Award for their management of Shellinghill park and Millennium Path in the village. 

Today, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the environmental charity that runs the international awards locally, revealed a list of old favourites and new entrants, reflecting the many types of open spaces that are used and cherished by local communities. 84 parks and open spaces have been recognised with a Green Flag Award for 2021, including 4 new Green Flag Awards, 1 new Community Award and 1 new Green Flag Heritage Award.

Rachel Vaughan, who manages the Green Flag Awards programme, said she hoped people would use the awards as an incentive to visit some new places in one of the nicest seasons of the year. She said:

“We all love a walk through the autumn leaves and it’s uplifting to discover a new spot to enjoy. When you visit a Green Flag park or open space you can be reassured that the location is being managed to a really high standard as they’ve been through a rigorous judging process that assesses sites across a range of issues including their horticultural standards, cleanliness, biodiversity and safety. And at time when many people’s finances are under pressure, it’s important to highlight the fact that all Green Flag spaces are free to everyone.”

Parks and open spaces play a hugely important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of local communities and come in many shapes and sizes. The expert judges, who are all volunteers themselves, were delighted to include several community spaces in this year’s selection, which are also run and managed by volunteers at a local level. These include: Shellinghill Park and Millennium Path, Sentry Hill Community Garden, Footprints Women’s Centre, Rathfern Activity Centre, Toome Linear Walk and Ballyeaston Church Ruin.

Special Green Flag Heritage Awards were presented to Stormont Estate, Brooke Park, Sentry Hill Historic House and Visitor Centre, Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House, Queen’s University Belfast, Warrenpoint Municipal Park, Newry Canal and Belfast Botanic Gardens. These sites are making the most of unique heritage features, which enhance the experience of visitors to their sites.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will be celebrating our award-winning parks and open spaces through a social media campaign the week beginning Monday 11 October.