Belfast Telegraph

Broughshane success keeps on growing after 73rd award

By Lindsay Fergus

There are one million reasons why the village of Broughshane is a blooming success story.

Having clinched its 73rd accolade — this time at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom Awards 2012 — Broughshane has transformed itself over the last quarter century from a run-down village into a global horticultural attraction.

Since 1987, more than one million hours of volunteering have been devoted to nurturing the Co Antrim village into the rural haven it has become for its 2,500 residents — and 150,000 annual visitors from around the world.

In that same period, the village’s population has doubled, it has almost eliminated vandalism and has built up a thriving local economy employing 300 people — bucking the trend of many rural areas which have been hit badly by the recession.

And that is why Britain in Bloom judges crowned Broughshane Champion of Champions at the weekend, for a second time. While its stunning floral arrangements played a major part in the decision, the judges were particularly struck by the sense of community that has catapulted Broughshane from the garden village of Ulster to the garden village of Britain.

The experts referred to Broughshane, which is just three miles from Ballymena and at the gateway to the Glens of Antrim, as arguably the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful location in Britain.

Judge John Woodward described it as a “shining example”. He said: “Twenty-five years ago, the town was a centre of sectarian problems and the idea of a cohesive community seemed an unlikely possibility.

“Years of solid hard work and vision under the motto ‘plants, people and pride growing together’ have turned Broughshane into an area of beauty, warmth and charm that has a future as bright as its flowers. Come and visit to see for yourself,” he added.

Sandy Wilson, chairman of the Broughshane Improvement Committee, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won. We particularly wanted to do well this year because it’s the 25th anniversary of Broughshane Improvement Committee.”

And Mr Wilson has no doubt about the secret of Broughshane’s success — its community.

There are 110 community and voluntary organisations from Broughshane and the Braid Valley District involved in the village’s success.

“It’s the fact that we work together as a community — a community for all ages, classes and creeds,” he added.

The winners

Royal Horticultural Society Britain In Bloom 2012

Northern Ireland winners:

  • Broughshane, champion of champions, gold and category winner
  • Ahoghill, small town, gold
  • Bangor, coastal over 12k, silver
  • Hillsborough, large village, silver gilt
  • Scarva, small village, silver gilt
  • Wallace Elder, Ahoghill, community champion
  • Leonard Anderson, Scarva, community champion

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