Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2017-Jan-25 — /Travel PR News/ — The Northern Ireland Best Kept Awards is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year as it launches the search for entries under a new title sponsor.
George Best Belfast City Airport has been announced as the new partner for the annual event, which is organised by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council.
The initiative seeks to identify and celebrate Northern Ireland’s best looked-after towns, villages, schools, healthcare facilities and housing areas. First established in 1957, the competition has grown over the years and now includes 89 awards across six categories.
Speaking at the launch event held at Belfast’s Riddell Hall on Monday, Joe Mahon, Patron of the Northern Ireland Amenity Council, said:
“This is a special year for everyone involved with the Best Kept Awards. The competition brings together a host of enthusiastic volunteers from across the country, all with the common goal of fostering civic pride and improving their local community.
“For many towns and villages, the programme represents a highlight of the year, and the chance to see the coveted Best Kept sign erected in their communities ensures the competitive spirit is always strong. We are anticipating over 500 entries this year and would encourage everyone to take part.
“We welcome Belfast City Airport on board as our new title sponsor and thank the organisation for its support in this special year and going forward. Without it, the awards would not be possible.”
In the six decades since its inception, around 150,000 volunteers have taken part in the event, with 10,000 entries having been submitted in the past 20 years alone.
Eglinton came out on top in the inaugural year, while amongst last year’s winners were Derry/Londonderry (Best City), Castlecaulfield (Small Village), Ahoghill (Large Village), Randalstown (Small Town), Enniskillen (Medium Town) and Antrim (Large Town).
Michelle Hatfield, Director of Human Resources and Corporate Responsibility at Belfast City Airport, said:
“Belfast City Airport is delighted to this year partner with the Best Kept Awards, especially in what is a very significant anniversary for the competition.
“Over six decades, the initiative has played a huge role in engendering a sense of civic pride among communities in towns and villages across Northern Ireland. We want to support local communities as they strive to improve the environment and the lives of its people – core values which we share.
“At Belfast City Airport we deliver an award-winning Community Commitment Plan, focusing on Community, Education, Environment and People, which makes us a natural partner for the Best Kept Awards.
“We look forward to seeing the hundreds of entries from across the country for this year’s competition.”
The initiative was the brainchild of the late Professor Arthur Muskett OBE who, then a renowned plant pathologist, set out to find Northern Ireland’s Best Kept Village. His daughter, Doreen Muskett MBE, is now President of the Northern Ireland Amenity Council.
Doreen Muskett MBE added:
“It is with great pride that we launch the George Best Belfast City Airport Awards in this, its 60th anniversary year.
“The competition has made an enormous impact on the lives of our family and, more importantly, on the thousands of volunteers that have made it such a success – and on the communities in which they live.”
Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen said:
“Today we recognise the great work undertaken by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council over the past six decades. The Council should be extremely proud of their achievements and of the commitment and dedication shown by its legions of volunteers throughout the past 60 years.
“I commend the good work of NIAC in promoting the protection, preservation and improvement of our local environment in partnership with my department. I congratulate and thank all those who have worked and volunteered for the Council over the last 60 years in helping our towns and villages compete on the biggest stages and enrich the experience of tourists when visiting Northern Ireland.”
Co. Down leads the way in terms of past winners, having amassed 79 awards over the years thanks to the efforts of communities such as Moira, Waringstown, Scarva, Holywood and many more.
Broughshane in Co Antrim, meanwhile, with 15 titles to its name, holds the distinction of having more category wins than anywhere else.
Entries to the Best Kept Awards, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport, are now open.
For more information on how to enter an awards category, please visit www.niacbestkept.com or call the Northern Ireland Amenity Council on 028 9040 3681.
SOURCE: Belfast City Airport