The Northern Ireland Amenity Council (NIAC) has officially begun their ‘hunt’ for the ‘Best Kept’ places in the country, following a launch event at Ballycraigy Primary School this week. Last year Belfast narrowly missed out to Derry-Londonderry in the ‘Best Kept City’ category, and citizens are now being encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get involved again this year.
Sponsored by Open+Direct Insurance (now part of Abbey Insurance), the awards, (which will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year), aim to highlight and recognise outstanding community spirit and the dedication of individuals who volunteer their time to improve their environmental surroundings.
Speaking at the launch, Doreen Muskett MBE, President NIAC said:
“We are thrilled to launch the 2016 Open+Direct Insurance ‘Best Kept’ Awards and offer our sincere appreciation to title sponsors Open+Direct Insurance, without whose support these wonderful awards would not be possible.
“Each year we continue to be inspired by the people we meet as part of this process. We’re proud that the ‘Best Kept’ Awards have such a rich history of discovering and rewarding communities and individuals whose selfless commitment and enthusiasm for creating beautiful surroundings is truly amazing. We’re certain that 2016 will uncover even more inspirational stories, which we can’t wait to hear!
“Entering the ‘Best Kept’ Awards is important as it provides a goal which entire communities can get behind and support. It promotes a sense of pride in our surroundings and motivates everyone, young and old to get involved in efforts to make the places where we live, work and go to school greener, cleaner and more enjoyable for everyone. This year we are introducing a new ‘Welcome Award’ for schools who are entering for the first time to recognise a new entrant who has really shone. So, whether you’ve entered before or are joining in for the first time, we encourage you to get involved as soon as possible!”
Speaking at the launch, Minister Mark H. Durkan said:
“Our built and natural environment is one of our greatest assets and we all share the responsibility for protecting and improving it, for current and future generations.
“These awards are a great way to recognise the contribution of unsung heroes of environmental progress. These people volunteer their own time and efforts and take pride in their surroundings to make them a more attractive place for people to live, for tourists to visit and for people to do business. They also encourage the development of new partnerships and approaches which strengthen community bonds and enable local people to take even greater pride in the places they live and work.
“Empowering communities and working with them to find innovative ways to achieve positive outcomes that both benefit the environment and the local economy is at the very heart of my vision for the North. I encourage as many schools, healthcare facilities, housing areas, towns and villages as possible to get involved and participate.”
Trevor Shaw, CEO of Abbey Insurance Brokers (new owners of Open+Direct Insurance) said:
“We are delighted to be supporting the ‘Best Kept’ Awards this year. These awards are a fantastic way of recognising the efforts of those who take the time and effort to enhance the community, and echo our sentiments of championing local towns and making Northern Ireland a brighter place to live and work.”
The ‘Best Kept’ Awards are open to schools, healthcare facilities, housing areas, towns and villages across Northern Ireland and entries are now open. For more information or to enter an awards category please visit www.niacbestkept.com or call the Northern Ireland Amenity Council on 028 9040 3681.