Seven lucky Westmeath primary schools have been presented with a prize fund totalling €4,500 by Kilbeggan Preservation and Development Association Ltd.
The winners had participated in Westmeath County Council’s The Main Offenders competition, in which schools were invited to create a sculpture in their school from the ‘main offenders’ of roadside litter, including plastic bottles, cans, and coffee/tea cups.
In addition to the prize money, each school was presented with a postcard with their sculpture printed on it by Cllr Frankie Keena. A gift pack of postcards displaying the seven winning entries was also distributed to the schools to give to every student and teacher. In addition the winning schools were presented with a bulk supply of postcards with their design for distribution within their own community and to the diaspora.
Prizes were awarded in two categories on the night: schools with over 100 students and schools with under 100 students. In the category of schools over 100 pupils, first prize of €1,000 went to Streamstown NS, second prize of €750 went to St Peter’s NS, Athlone, and joint third prize of €250 went to St Brigid’s NS, Moate and St Mary’s NS, Athlone.
In the category of schools under 100 pupils, first prize of €1,000 went to St Fintan’s, Lismacaffrey, second prize of €750: to Rosemount NS, and third prize of €500 to St Brigid’s School, Mullingar.
Speaking at the presentation on June 16 at Áras an Chontae, Mullingar, John Deegan of Kilbeggan Preservation & Development Association Ltd said: “The group wanted to get involved as they are keenly aware that children are vital in spreading knowledge and this initiative engaged young people to consider the implications of litter on the environment and how they can take a very active part in making a difference”.
Cathaoirleach Frankie Keena acknowledged the work that was put into each entry and stressed the importance of this type of competition as a means of raising awareness of the litter in our county.
“Litter is more than just a mess on the ground; it ruins the appearance of our schools, villages, or towns, it is a health hazard and may attract rats and flies that can cause disease, it takes away from our tourism and business potential, and it can pollute our rivers, streams, and lakes. So it’s so important that we all play our part to make the difference,” he said.
The council’s environmental awareness officer Ruth Maxwell added: “The council spent in excess of €1.4 million last year on cleaning up litter and illegal dumping and this does not include the cost of many groups and individuals who clean up on a regular basis in their own locality.”