SuperValu TidyTowns: 25 years of local success
Published 06/05/2016 | 15:10
As SuperValu TidyTowns celebrates 25 years, Westport and Malin recall their multiple wins
SuperValu are celebrating 25 years of sponsorship of Ireland’s SuperValu TidyTowns competition. A Fáilte Ireland initiative, the competition which began in 1958 was started to inspire civic spirit, expand the tourism market and to encourage people to take pride in their locality, is now a national institution.
Irish towns have been taking part for many years, with some clocking up multiple successes. Westport, for example, has a superb record when it comes to winning SuperValu TidyTowns awards.
Back in 1990 a few proud Westport locals decided to form a TidyTowns committee and take part in the national competition. Since then Westport has won three national titles, as well as numerous county, regional and gold medal awards.
SuperValu TidyTowns is instrumental in bringing people together at a local level to take pride in their locality, encouraging people to work together to aspire to be the best community in the country.
This was clearly the case in Westport as the committee decided to put funds earned from Westport’s TidyTowns successes into a savings account so they could give something back to local people.
Suggestions for statues and sculptures were put forward and discussed but the committee wanted something relatively maintenance free and that added to the social life in the area, so they finally decided on a great practical project that could be enjoyed by both young and old.
Westport Skate Park opened in 2011 and it’s now used by a wide range of locals, from young children and teenagers to parents and even the town’s older residents, who enjoy sitting in the sun watching all the fun.
The park is a great example of community co-operation, with Westport Town Council providing the site, Westport Credit Union putting up bridging funding and South West Mayo Development Company supplying additional funds to help get the TidyTowns’ project up and running.
Kavanagh’s SuperValu in Westport has sponsored TidyTowns activities since the 1990s and manager, Liam Campion, says the park is a great example of the community co-operation that was inspired by TidyTowns.
“Rather than spending our award money down the years, we banked it and waited for a suitable project that would benefit everyone in the town,” says Liam, who has been an active member of Westport TidyTowns Committee since 1998.
“It’s a real pleasure to see the buzz at this skate park, with people bringing their grandkids to play and others cycling there along the Greenway.
Local SuperValu management and staff now work alongside committee members like Eithne Larkin, Bridie Moran, Rhona Chambers and Frank Dolan – the longest still-serving member – to ensure Westport remains the pride of the county.
The SuperValu TidyTowns competition continues to evolve...
The TidyTowns competition continues to evolve with the different challenges local communities have to face. In the 80s, litter was still a real blight on the local high street and the SuperValu TidyTowns competition was an important contribution on changing how we think about our towns; throwing litter on the street today would be unthinkable. In the recession, when rural towns were decimated by emigration and closed retail units, pride became imperative for local communities.
“SuperValu stores are an integral part of communities throughout Ireland. We believe in the power and value of helping to build vibrant local communities through providing employment, supporting local producers, local initiatives and local clubs. SuperValu TidyTowns brings people together to work for a common cause, making our towns and villages better places to live and ensuring we are providing sustainable communities for future generations to come,” says SuperValu’s Managing Director Martin Kelleher.
Locals in Malin still remember the 3rd of May, 1992. That was the day President Mary Robinson visited the small Donegal village to unveil a plaque celebrating their SuperValu TidyTowns National Winners Award Competition.
“That win 25 years ago was the start of a great run for us,” says committee member, Anne Monagle. “For example, we’ve gone on to win either silver or bronze almost every year since the millennium.”
“Continuity has been very important for us. The 10-person committee includes four members who have served since we won in 1992. We’re a small place, with a population of a few hundred, so we’ve always found that small things make a difference. For example, we don’t allow posters to be put up during election time. It isn’t a law, but we ask people to comply for the sake of our village and they’re happy to help out. You really notice that extra bit of tidiness when you arrive in Malin.”
“I’m delighted the way community groups, religious groups and the G.A.A work together for the benefit of the area. This gives us all access to a team of people in community employment groups, so there is no shortage of manpower and womanpower for community projects around Malin.”
The competitive spirit is alive and well in Malin. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the town, see if we can turn those silver and bronze medals into gold. So, for example, we have a new wildflower garden and bird-watching spots at the entrance to the town. And our community garden, which is allotments for locals, is fully up and running now. Working together, we really feel like we are pulling out all the stops this year.”
And will they win? “Well, if the sun shines on Malin, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. So we’re hoping for good weather when the judges arrive!”
SuperValu are very proud of their partnership with the TidyTowns competition over the last 25 years and will value it for many years into the future.