More than 100 families have joined forces to clear up 20 miles of roads round Moneyglass as part of the Big Spring Clean.
Champion jockey and local hero AP McCoy paid tribute to the people who gathered up 500 bags of rubbish as part of the litter blitz organised by St Ergnat's GAC. The clean-up collected 1.5 tonnes of rubbish, bringing the total over the last three years to 4.5 tonnes.
"I was delighted to learn that St Ergnat's have just completed their third annual Big Spring Clean and that they have collected an astonishing 4.5 tonnes of roadside rubbish over the past three years' events," he said.
"Knowing the strong sense of community spirit in Moneyglass, I was not surprised to learn that so many local people turned out in force, along with their children, to participate in this very worthwhile community event. Congratulations and well done to everyone who took part."
Meanwhile, celebrity chef Noel McMeel also paid tribute to the families, who each took a half-mile stretch of road and cleared up and bagged the rubbish they found fly-tipped and thrown from car windows.
"I'm delighted to hear of St Ergnat's third annual Big Spring Clean. It's great to see so many people actively improving the local area and setting a magnificent example for our young people. Congratulations to all involved," he said.
This spring the Belfast Telegraph is trying to galvanise 100,000 people across Northern Ireland to roll up their sleeves and clean up their area.
We have joined forces with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and DoE Rethink Waste and inspired tens of thousands of local people to tackle the litter blighting their area.
Des Taggart, who co-ordinated the clean-up on March 23, said Moneyglass had gathered around 1.5 tonnes of rubbish every year.
"We found a TV dumped at the side of the road and most of the guys complained about fly-tipping of plastic sacks full of rubbish. Then there are people throwing hot food containers and drinks containers out of car windows on the way home," he said.
"It's disheartening to see how much rubbish there is every year, but our kids are going to school the next day noticing it and giving off about litterbugs.
"It's a big effort but it's all worthwhile. Hopefully by the time they are 17 or 18 they won't be chucking litter out of car windows after having to pick it up for the last 12 years – that's the whole masterplan."
On the day a team of volunteer drivers collected almost 500 bags of litter and brought them back to the collection point at St Ergnat's club grounds, to be lifted by Antrim Borough Council the following day. The clean-up was followed by tea and refreshments in the clubrooms.
Mr Taggart said: "This is a fantastic community event which not only helps improve the appearance of our local community, but will hopefully educate everyone not to spoil the local countryside. I was astonished by the large turnout of local volunteers, most of whom were young kids, who collected a staggering 500 bags of rubbish.
"St Ergnat's GAC would like to thank every family in the community who participated in the Big Spring Clean, and especially all the sponsors, caterers, litter collectors, organising committee, photographers and drivers who made the day so successful. We would also thank councillors Henry Cushnahan and Brian Duffin of Antrim Council who came along last Sunday to support the event."
The Belfast Telegraph and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful have just launched the Big Spring Clean, the province's largest volunteering campaign aimed at cleaning up local areas and improving our environment. Last year more than 53,000 people got involved and we're hoping to beat 100,000 in 2014. All you have to do is get involved in a clean-up event in your area or organise your own. For more information and to get your free clean-up pack, visit: www.bigspringcleanni.org