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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Whitehead Nature Reserve gets a makeover to ‘dye’ for

The Mayor officially opened the new Nature Reserve at Whitehead with HLF Chair Mukesh Sharma MBE DL, volunteers & Cllr Maureen Morrow.

Beach Road Nature Reserve in Whitehead is now awash with colour thanks to a £10k makeover. After months of planting and pruning, new seating areas, shrubs, trees and planters have all been installed using money from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF) and the Department for Communities (DFC).

Planting of specific flora and fauna to create a natural ‘dye garden’ now provides eco-friendly, natural dye pigments for textiles, soap making, paints and pastels.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey said:

“This is a perfect example of reinvigorating traditional skills that have helped shape communities over decades, to bring new life to local communities and the spaces they live in. We really hope residents will get involved in caring for and creating from this new garden.

“This site is protected because of its abundance of wildlife and plant species. All works on site have been mindful of the fact the site is a designated Local Nature Reserve. These new plants will also serve pollinators but new signage raises awareness of the special marine life visible from here.

“We’re delighted that we’ve received this support from the National Lottery players and the Department for Communities to help create something to be used by this community and nature side by side.”

Volunteers at Beach Road Nature Reserve in Whitehead.

Since 1994 National Lottery Heritage Fund has invested £1.6billion in landscapes and nature, including more than £950m in public parks and cemeteries.

Mukesh Sharma, Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in NI said:

“Our local places have become more important than ever throughout this pandemic, and through this fund, we hope to encourage people to get to know their local heritage that bit better.

“We’re grateful to the Department for Communities for providing the funding and we’re delighted to fund a diverse range of projects which will make a huge impact on many communities across Northern Ireland. This new community garden is a great way for people to come together and explore the local natural heritage in Whitehead.”

Over twenty volunteers have been meeting regularly on site over the past few months bringing a range of expertise and knowledge.

Louise Williamson is a volunteer and said the project aims to regenerate a culture of craft in the community:

“We were delighted to work with Council on the funding bid and to secure funding from HLF. Plants such as cornflower, yarrow, rosemary and lavender are now growing here and can be used throughout the year to create an array of colours and textures that only natural dyes can achieve. Tree species such as hawthorn can also be used as dying materials, as can a range of native wildflowers which have been sown and tended to by volunteers.

“We intend to run community craft class on site soon. New volunteers are always welcome. You can find out more and keep up to date on the Beach Road Dye Garden Facebook page.”

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