The consistently diligent work of numerous local community volunteer groups was formally recognised this week when Athlone achieved a gold medal standard accolade at the annual National Tidy Town’s awards ceremony.
Such positive news was warmly received by Athlone Tidy Towns committee chairperson, Gerry Johnson, who noted that the gold standard achievement was a just reflection of the collective efforts of all those who strive to present the town in a presentable and welcoming manner.
“We were delighted and honoured to be receive this award for the second consecutive year, a Gold Medal at the national Tidy Towns competition, receiving a proud total of 347 points from the adjudicator following her visit to the town on June 14.
“In addition to this recognition, we also received a County Commendation award, which was a pleasant surprise. Much hard work has been carried on behind the scenes to achieve this recognition and in particular the hard-working members of our tidy towns committee. The report is very detailed and in it many suggestions are documented to guide our committee towards better results in future years.
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“We are indebted to the many volunteers in residential areas that quietly conduct clean-ups and planting to improve the attractiveness of the town. These are some of the many thousands of hard-working participants, who are part of the great national tidy town movement. The support of the Athlone-Moate Municipal District staff plays a large part of our success and in particular the elected members who support us in making our case for improvements in the town.
“Athlone has much to offer as a tourist destination and we hope we play our part in making a visit to the town a memorable experience. More importantly, the town has vast potential and has many attractive features and facilities, which make it a great place in which to live. If we can play our part in maintaining the attractiveness of Athlone and at the same time promote nature and biodiversity and sustainability, then it is all worth the effort,” Mr Johnson commented.
Gold Medal Glory
Echoing similar sentiments, Catahoirleach, Westmeath County Council, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, stated that the awarding of a National Tidy Town’s gold medal standard accolade was a “massive achievement” for the town.
“To achieve a National Tidy Towns Gold Medal for the inaugural occasion last year was an amazing accomplishment for Athlone Tidy Towns, the council, all the volunteers and people involved. Last year, I said that the 2021 Gold Medal presented us with the biggest challenge that we have ever faced in this competition and that was holding on to this accolade in 2022.
“So, in many ways this year’s gold medal award is far more significant than last year’s. As a town we have put down a firm marker in terms of how we want to present Athlone, how we go about that, and more importantly, we understand what is required to make it happen. While the council play a major role in delivering a well presented and clean town, so to do the Residents Associations and the many volunteers who work hard all year round.
“However, our amazing Athlone Tidy Towns committee deserve huge credit for driving the agenda year on year. They work with and challenge the council week-in-week-out to ensure that the necessary high standards are maintained and that there is a plan for continuous improvement.
“I am sure the general public out there are not fully aware how difficult it is to achieve the ‘Gold’ standard in this competition. It really is a massive achievement, particularly for a big town like Athlone. It involves a lot of planning and developing strategies around biodiversity, regeneration, sustainability, planting, litter control, wildlife preservation, school liaison, business liaison and town presentation. So, people should realise that our tidy towns committee is much more than a litter picking organisation, more accurately it is a dynamic, strategic town enhancement organisation.
“For us to continually hold this high standard, and build on it, will take a lot of work and co-operation by all stakeholders in the town. It is going to take everyone to play their part and so, in that regard, I am calling on everyone to give a little of their time, either in your own area or with the tidy towns volunteers, please do what you can going forward,” Cllr O’Rourke remarked.
The picturesque village of Ballinahown was also recognised with silver medal and county first accolades at the national awards ceremony.
County Westmeath’s tidiest village continues to make annual progress at the awards ceremony, local Fine Gael councillor, John Dolan, paying due appreciation to the numerous volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure that Ballinahown is presented in a scenic manner.
“Ballinahown gained a further 12 points at the awards ceremony this year for which the village received a silver medal accolade. The cumulative points attained placed Ballinahown just 10 points behind the overall national winners, Trim.
“Ballinahown is a fabulous place in which to live and has a number of hard working organisations and individuals who have made the village what it is today. This result gives all those who reside in the village the encouragement to go one better next year and hopefully receive a deserved gold medal,” Cllr Dolan stated.