Belfast Telegraph

Sydenham rail halt scoops Ulster in Bloom award

By Rebecca Petticrew

Sydenham rail halt is officially 'blooming lovely' after scooping second place in Translink's Ulster in Bloom competition.

The accolade is all the more impressive as only five volunteer gardeners maintain all of the plants at the station and neighbouring community garden, and the project is completely self-funded.

Volunteers from Sydenham's Palmerston Community Association, headed by Terry Hoey, get their green fingers into gear at the start of May and work right through to the end of October – spending up to five hours a day planting, pruning, weeding and watering at the height of the summer season.

Terry said he and volunteers Maureen, Godfrey, Anna and Rhea, are "delighted" with the win.

"We've worked so hard over the past five years to get the station and community garden together, and many of us are also battling ill health," he explained.

"That part of Inverary always looked bad and I had heard rumours that NIR were going to close the station, so we decided to try to do something to get passenger numbers up as well as improving the look of the area. We wanted to encourage as many visitors as possible into Sydenham," he said.

Terry told the Community Telegraph that maintaining the station would be impossible without the support of Hillmount Nurseries who have supplied plants and George Best City Airport who donated money towards the purchase of plants.

Terry said that while the generosity of local businesses and the community has been "fantastic", he thinks Belfast City Council should do more to help the group maintain the halt.

"We would really like to see some support from our local councillors and from Belfast City Council in general." he said.

"Michael Copeland is a Castlereagh MLA but he has helped us out a lot of times – he even managed to get us four trees from Castlereagh Borough Council. I'm still waiting for Belfast City Council to give us the four trees we asked them for.

"We've achieved so much with an inner city station with so little support, if we had a bit more help and recognition I definitely think we could win next year."

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