Established almost 60 years ago and run by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council (NIAC), the prestigious awards aim to recognise those who seek to nurture and improve their environmental heritage.
The 2014 competition was launched by Doreen Muskett MBE, Chair of the NIAC, Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan and two pupils from St Joseph’s Primary School in Carryduff, ‘Best of the Best’ recipient for 2013.
Miss Muskett said: “We’re looking for the communities, schools and healthcare facilities that are most passionate about preserving their surroundings and creating sustainable, green environments to live and work in.
“Our esteemed judging panel will consider a range of criteria to determine the most deserving award recipients, including floral displays, grass roots environmental projects, and an absence of litter and graffiti. They will also look for underlying evidence of community participation in environmental initiatives.
“These awards present a fantastic opportunity to bring people together to better their surroundings. If you think you have what it takes to be named one of the country’s Best Kept areas, we’d love to hear from you,” she added.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Mark H Durkan said: “The Best Kept Awards are a brilliant way of encouraging and rewarding community environmental action. Many people and groups in our community take the initiative to improve their local environments. They don’t wait for others to fix problems. They don’t sit around talking about how untidy and degraded their towns and local environments are. Instead, they get together and do something about it. They are often the quiet and unsung heroes of environmental progress. That’s why these awards are so important.
“We can’t do enough to recognise the efforts of those people and groups who take action to improve their local environment. I commend the Northern Ireland Amenity Council for organising the awards and encourage as many schools, healthcare facilities, housing areas, towns and villages to enter.”
The closing dates for entries are as follows:
• Schools – 7th March
• Housing areas, towns and villages – 26th April
• Healthcare facilities – 23rd May
Winners will be awarded attractive signage, trophies and a monetary gift.
For more information or to enter please visit www.niacbestkept.com or call the Northern Ireland Amenity Council on 028 9040 3681.