DONAGHADEE is bursting with ‘community spirit and civic pride’ after scooping a prestigious gold award in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom awards. 

The dedicated efforts of the ‘Dee Bloomers’, a 150-strong group of young and older people, set about watering hanging baskets, planting window boxes and floral displays to help the historic seaside town secure success.

Building on their Ulster in Bloom success for the past three years, Donaghadee won a gold award in the town category and also received a certificate of achievement in the Innovation in Community Engagement Award.

Representatives from Donaghadee Community Development Association accompanied Mayor Jennifer Gilmour to a prestigious awards ceremony held in London earlier this week where they were announced as the winners of the award.

Through a massive groundswell of green-fingered effort the Donaghadee community helped achieve the Royal Horticultural Society aims of enriching everyone’s lives through plants and making the world a greener place.

John Caldwell, Donaghadee Community Development Association honorary secretary, praised the efforts of everyone involved.

“It is lovely to get the recognition of Britain in Bloom,” he said. “The big winner is that community spirit and civic pride has been heightened, it is brilliant.”

He explained how the ‘Dee Bloomers’ first took root.

“A group called Dee Bloomers was set up thanks to Alison Taylor. There were over 150 people involved, including people out watering hanging baskets, people taking on displays and others taking on floral containers.

“The local school children were also involved including St Anne’s and Donaghadee Primary School who were involved in the floral display in a boat,and Killard School pupils planted the window boxes and then took them around the town centre to people with window ledges. The children loved it.

“Local churches were also involved as well as sports clubs, and there were traders and special interest groups who all joined together and planted out floral containers and took responsibility for them.”

Mr Caldwell believes barriers were broken down across the community thanks to the massive intergenerational effort. “Everyone was all in it together, and the real winner is the community of Donaghadee. I met people that I didn’t know, it really broke down barriers.

“You were meeting people who had just moved to the town and people who had lived in the town for years but had never ventured out into the community.”

He said: “The group that was set up by Alison Taylor was the nucleus and people were able to come together, it was brilliant. We are chuffed to bits to receive the award.”