Volunteers were urged to continue battling the blight of marine litter as they were praised for their efforts at the Coca Cola Coast Care Awards.
The 10th anniversary event at Stormont rewarded community heroes who have gone the extra mile to clean up and look after our coastline and inland waterways.
The Live Here Love Here and Coca-Cola HBC initiative, which was hosted by BBC Weatherman Barra Best, also celebrated the beauty of the province’s coastline and inland waterways through the Picture Perfect Award.
Attendees were entertained by music from talented, young musicians Fourte Strings and by sand sculptor, Tony Hawkins.
The guest speaker on the night was writer, surfer and founder of the #2minutebeachclean campaign, Martin Dorey, who he spoke from the heart, relating to and encouraging volunteers to continue in their fight against marine litter and highlighting the significance of even the smallest of gestures.
The Live Here Love Here Clean Coasts Programme supports the work of volunteers who clean up beaches, rivers and loughs providing equipment and support.
Dr Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “Our ten year partnership with Coca-Cola enables us to consistently support a growing movement of people who have the tenacity to keep on cleaning up our coast and inland waterways.
“Tonight we take the time to celebrate their achievements, their passion and their ‘can-do’ attitude that is keeping Northern Ireland’s shores, loughs, canals and rivers beautiful. It is obvious such volunteers really do live here and love here and their work is truly inspiring. Thank you.”
In 2008, the programme recorded a total of 110 volunteers but the number has grown dramatically to an impressive 4,642 participants in 2016.
A Clean Up and Drum Circle, a Cycle Sea Safari, Beach Clean and Boot Camp, and an Extreme Cave Clean in the underground rivers of Fermanagh are just a few of the events which engaged local people this time round.
Louise Sullivan, Director Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland, said, “We are immensely proud of our long-standing partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. As leaders in sustainability, we strive to minimise our impact on the environment and a key element of our efforts are focused on environmental stewardship within communities.”
The award winners were as follows:
Coca-Cola Coast Care Group - Ballyhornan Development Association, Downpatrick;
Coca-Cola Inland Waterway Group - Six Mile Water Trust, Antrim;
Brighter Futures - (joint winners) Ulidia Integrated College Eco Team, Carrickfergus and 29th Belfast Beaver Scouts Carryduff;
Better Business Partnership - Citi Belfast;
Local Hero - Pat Watson, Inland Waterways Association Ireland, Bessbrook;
Picture Perfect - Wilbert McIlmoyle, Portstewart.