Housing Executive launches its 2021 Rural Awards competition with new categories

Rural issues News
5 people hold placards in a garden
Pictured at the launch of the Housing Executive’s Rural Community Awards 2021 are Margaret Murphy (Cullybackey Community Partnership), Sharon Crooks (Housing Executive Area Manager Mid Ulster), Mark Alexander (Housing Executive Causeway Area Manager), Sinead Collins (Housing Executive Rural and Regeneration Manager) and Martin Quinn (Supporting Communities).

Outstanding rural communities and individuals have the chance for recognition through the Housing Executive’s 2021 Rural Community Awards.

Launched at Balmoral Show in 2014, the inaugural competition has been a huge success ever since – generating hundreds of inspiring applications.

Giving rural communities and their local groups a chance to display the range of activities that they have undertaken, the Housing Executive’s Rural Awards showcases these vibrant places to live.

This year’s competition will once again focus on rural groups and extraordinary individuals and volunteers who have helped with the ongoing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Five awards can be scooped this year, including; the Rural Community Spirit Award, Cleaner and Greener Award, the Community Champion Award, the Young Volunteer Award and the Budding Rural Photographer Award.

Sinead Collins, the Housing Executive’s Rural and Regeneration Manager, said she is delighted to launch this year’s awards, while welcoming new exciting categories, aimed specifically for young people.

She added; “Back in 2020, the competition was amended in order to reflect the circumstances presented as a result of Covid-19 and we were overwhelmed with the high quality of applications.

“This year we want to continue to celebrate the work of volunteers across Northern Ireland who are quite often the ‘unsung heroes’ within our communities.”

“They have had a vital role throughout the pandemic and so the 2021 competition will refocus on rewarding the efforts made by both groups and individuals to reach out and support residents within their rural communities throughout this crisis.”

The Rural Community Spirit award is open to all community groups based in rural areas across Northern Ireland, and the Community Champion award is open to extraordinary individuals nominated by the rural community group they represent.

A £1,000 prize is up for grabs for the winners of the Community Spirit and Cleaner and Greener Award.

Groups of the Community Champions will receive £500 and the Community Champion will receive a plaque.

Winners of the new Young Volunteer and Budding Rural Photographer Award will be presented with new Apple IPads.

Sinead continued; “This year we are also re-introducing our Cleaner and Greener Rural Community award which rewards rural communities who have come together to protect and enhance their built and natural environment.

“There are also two age categories for our Young Rural Volunteer award and our Budding Rural Photographer Award which we hope to draw on the artistic talent of young rural residents through recounts of their own volunteer work with poetry, art-work and photographs.”

There are two categories for North and South Region with the Community Spirit, Cleaner and Greener Community Champion Awards.

This year’s new Young Volunteer Award and Budding Rural Photographer award also has two age categories ranging from ages 7-14 and 14-18.

For the chance to win any of the five Rural Community Awards on offer, you can visit the link online at: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Documents/Community/Rural-Community-Awards-application.aspx

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