Local volunteers were highly praised at the annual Wicklow County Council Tidy Towns, Estates and Environmental Awards which took place in County Buildings recently. The awards give recognition to a variety of groups for projects and actions undertaken in their local communities over the last year.
Speaking at the awards Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, said that the volunteers involved in Tidy Towns played a key role in our towns development and added that the Council would work to ensure that all the groups can access funding and grants from all available sources to help them with their work.
The Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Vance, said that while Tidy Towns groups worked throughout the year, they were now gearing up for their busiest time. He said his role brought him to all parts of the county and he was impressed to see the range of projects and actions that Tidy Towns groups were delivering in all our towns.
All groups were constantly searching for more volunteers with a range of skills from picking litter, planting and DIY to IT and social media skills, as well as those who want to build more sustainable communities, protect local biodiversity or tackle Climate Change.
Aughrim received recognition for achieving the highest score in the 2018 national Tidy Town Competition of all County Wicklow entries while Hollywood achieved the biggest increase in marks in the national competition and received an endeavour award.
Main streets and estates were judged during the summer months looking at efforts to keep them litter free, landscaping and maintenance of shop fronts and built heritage. Aughrim, Hollywood and Blessington were the winners in the Main Street competition while Burnaby Lawns, Greystones and Ashton, Blessington both picked up awards for best maintained estates.
Three schools were presented with awards for environmental projects and campaigns. Glenart College was recognised for tackling single use plastics through a campaign to replace plastic bottles by the provision of water fountains and a reusable bottle given to each first-year student.
Brittas Bay National School picked up a Coastcare award for their project on Brittas Bay and Enereilly beaches. St Laurence National School won the overall schools award for their work on the marine environment and projects and artwork made from reused plastics. They also invited in local experts on the marine environment and did cleanups on their local beach.
Hollywood Tidy Towns won an award for their communal gardening which included an allotment developed as a demonstration plot for the community and also as a feature within the annual Hollywood Fair.
Arklow Coastcare picked up the Coast Care award. The group developed and installed new signage and worked closely with all the training centres in the town, including Sunbeam House, the National Learning Centre and Youth Reach giving trainees an opportunity to join them on weekly beach cleanups.
Newtownmountkennedy won the waste minimisation award for their networking seminar on sustainable resource use to mark European Week for Waste Reduction. They partnered with Coillte and Wicklow County Council and invited all Tidy Town groups from Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire drawing on local expertise within Coillte, the local community and national campaigns.
Knockananna Tidy Towns were recognised for their efforts to save and renovate the historic forge building located in the heart of the village.
The Avon Ri resort won the business award following nomination by Blessington Tidy Towns. They worked to eliminate single use plastics, including straws and condiment sachets while the resort chief tackled the issue of food waste by changing purchasing procedures. Staff from the resort also helped protect the Blessington Lakes Greenway by regular litter picks.
Blessington Tidy Towns themselves were recognised for their new digitalized heritage walk with QR codes and work to have equipment installed on the Blessington Lakes Greenway.
The Baltynamina PURE mile won the wildlife and natural amenities for their website and signage which showcases the wealth of local biodiversity. They held themed walks for both adults and children on biodiversity.
Arklow won the landscaping award for works to renovate the Ormonde Castle, the bandstand and Main Street car park and their work to develop the River Walk. They were also were successful with a bid to rehome a dementia-friendly garden developed for Bloom last year.