Tiny Ahoghill strikes gold in awards for best blooms
It may be a sleepy village in the heart of rural Co Antrim - but Ahoghill is among the nation's most scenic communities after spectacularly scooping gold at the Britain in Bloom awards.
It won the Small Town category at the Britain in Bloom Awards 2015, hosted by TV presenter James Alexander-Sinclair.
It beat off competition from more than 1,000 Bloom groups across the UK vying for the coveted awards, of which only 70 were selected to represent their region at the finals.
Antrim, Londonderry, Scarva and Glenarm all won silver-gilt in their categories.
Denise Reynolds of Ahoghill in Bloom said: "The team is delighted to have been successful in the Small Towns category of Britain in Bloom 2015.
"This is a great achievement, not just for the team but for the whole community.
"We have been delighted by the support provided by residents, businesses and organisations across Ahoghill.
"This award is great encouragement as we continue to develop our environmental improvement programme."
Chairman of the UK judging panel, Roger Burnett, said: "This has been a vintage year for Britain in Bloom, with communities across the country coming together to create wonderful floral displays that benefit not just the individuals involved, but their communities and the wider environment.
"Thanks to the work of Britain in Bloom, once neglected areas of our towns, villages and cities are turning from grey to green, and communities are coming together with a shared purpose.
"The standard of entries this year has been incredibly high. It is an honour to recognise and celebrate the work these amazing people do to build stronger, healthier and happier communities through gardening."
Norton in Hales was awarded the ultimate community gardening prize, winning the Champion of Champions 2015 title.
Alexander-Sinclair said: "Britain in Bloom is one of those great national institutions which never ceases to astound me. It not only brings together communities, improves our environment and fosters civic pride, but also helps to inspire creativity, spreads joy and laughter and invigorates friendships."
The organisers say the hard work of Bloom groups across the country supplements public services - with almost 300,000 volunteers donating up to 10.9 million hours a year, equivalent to almost £70m at the national minimum wage. They also help to turn grey areas of Britain green and enrich people's lives through plants.
Britain in Bloom, with the RHS judging panel headed by Roger Burnett, met representatives of each finalist throughout the summer to assess each of the 70 Bloom campaigns against three key criteria: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.
A number of discretionary awards were given to communities and individuals who demonstrated excellence in a particular area of the campaign. These included awards for young people's involvement, environmental sustainability and tourism, among others.