A Brief History

Sandra CarsonSandra Carson, a former Art and Design teacher, was the driving force behind the development of floral art in Ballymena and surrounding districts from the early sixties.

Passionate about flowers from an early age, she received initial tuition at the world famous Constance Spry Flower School (London) and incorporated floral art into the curriculum up to GCSE level, as well as teaching adults at flower arranging evening classes throughout the province.

After further study leading to a teaching diploma from the former Woburn Abbey School of Flower Arrangement (WASFA), Sandra was appointed a senior teacher of WASFA and lecturer for the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s part-time three year in-service diploma courses for teachers.

Aware of the abundance of local talent and increasing public interest in floral art, Sandra realised the potential for flower arrangers to develop their skills and expand their knowledge of this art and its related subjects through wider influences and sources, collectively, just at the timely inception of the Northern Ireland Group of Flower Arrangers (NIGFAS) which embraces all flower clubs. So, in 1975 she was instrumental in forming the Ballymena Floral Art Group, initially in affiliation with the local Horticultural Society.

Minutes from the the Inaugural Meeting of the Ballymena Group of Flower Arrangers held in Ballymena Technical College, 8/4/1975

Minutes from a Committee Meeting held in ‘Four Winds’, Leymore (Mrs Margaret Barr’s home), 5/5/1975

Shortly afterwards, for operational reasons, the club became independent and affiliated to NIGFAS. Sandra was the first Chairman and is founder President.

Throughout the years, with the support, enthusiasm and dedication of a succession of committees, Sandra continued to play a pivotal role in raising the Club’s profile and laying the foundations for the Floral Art Group’s future through social as well as educational aspects. Such team efforts have enabled members and the general public to benefit from a wide range of demonstrators from the mainland who are at the cutting edge of their careers. Beginners’ interests have been fostered and their talents developed enabling them to take the first steps to success and flourish as ‘Area’ and ‘National’ prize-winners.

So, too, have many memorable occasions, involving all members with their diverse talents and interests, paved the way for a vibrant future, notably, magnificent floral displays in the Great Floral Marquee at N Ireland’s first Flower Fest, the splendid 21st Gala Dinner in The Great Hall, Galgorm Manor and the delightful 25th and 30th Buffet Luncheons hosted respectively by the Hon. Daphne Montgomery at Greyabbey House and Lord and Lady Dunleath at Ballywalter Park.

It is testimony to the Ballymena Floral Art Group’s success that, whilst respecting the traditional, the members continue to move forward, easily pushing the boundaries of design by embracing new concepts and challenges with plant material.