Who will Ballymoney immortalise in steel?

Residents in Ballymoney are being given the chance to immortalise the town’s heritage in steel, as part of a national art project from charity Sustrans.

The project’s steering group have worked with the Ballymoney Museum and drawn up a shortlist of industries which have shaped Ballymoney, and it’s now up to local people to decide which three characters should appear on the ‘portrait bench’, joining 240 characters across the UK.

Three life-size 2-D steel figures will stand behind a simple wooden bench to be placed in Riverside Park near the planned bridge over the railway, part of the new greenway in Ballymoney, which is helping local people make more of their everyday journeys without having to rely on a car.

Ballymoney mayor and chair of the steering group, Councillor Ian Stevenson said, “The portrait bench provides a fantastic opportunity for Ballymoney residents to showcase the heritage of the community, so that future generations will be able to learn more about the town.

“From our railway heritage, to farming and the industrial mills of the 18th and 19th centuries, there is a great deal of history in the area and we can’t wait to see who the community chooses to honour.”

Residents living in Cherry Gardens, Shandon Park & Myrtle Park are already seeing improved access to the Greenway. When complete, the project will provide new links directly to the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, shops, schools, Ballymoney Station, Riverside Park and the expanding residential areas to the south of the town.

Steven Patterson, Sustrans’ NI Director, said, “We know that people are more likely to make their journeys on foot or by bike when they enjoy the environment around them.

“Public artwork, such as the portrait bench, helps to make our routes more attractive and interesting, encouraging more people to get around the town without relying on a car.”

Clive Bradberry, Translink Infrastructure Executive said, “We are delighted to be part of this project which will not only mean better access to the railway station, but will see better links to the town for local residents. I am looking forward to seeing the proposed characters and would encourage everyone to get onboard and choose their favourite.”

To vote for which three characters should be immortalised in steel, residents can either phone in their choices to the Countryside Access Officer on 028 276 60227 or email sonya.crawford@ballymoney.gov.uk.

Alternatively voting forms are available from the Tourist Information Centre in Ballymoney Town Hall or from Ballymoney railway station, where they can also be posted. There will also be a display in the Town Hall allHallfoyer until Thursday 15 December or visit www.ballymoney.gov.uk for further information.

The scheme is part of a national project from Sustrans, creating new everyday walking and cycling routes in communities across the UK. The project received £50million from the Big Lottery Fund. Part of the money has made it’s way to Ballymoney, alongside local funding from Ballymoney Borough Council, DRD Roads Service and Translink.

Discover how to get around everyday on foot or by bike and find what your local area has to offer with our free online mapping. Find it at www.sustrans.org.uk or download the free app for iphones - The complete National Cycle Network - from the iTunes store.