Man reunited with Castlerock rescuers almost 30 years later

Richard with Seamus ONeill, Barry McConville and Thomas Quinn. INCR 15-701-CON
Richard with Seamus ONeill, Barry McConville and Thomas Quinn. INCR 15-701-CON

A dramatic sea rescue at Castlerock almost 30 years ago will feature in the first of a new TV series on BBC One Northern Ireland.

‘Real Lives Reunited’ returns on Tuesday, April 4 at 10.40pm for more extraordinary stories from a shared past.

Richard Shortland. INCR 15-704-CON

Richard Shortland. INCR 15-704-CON

Programme one will revisit 1990 when a 12-year-old boy from Donaghadee was saved from drowning by a group of strangers.

Almost three decades later, Richard Shortland, now 39, and living in Donaghcloney, is reunited with the three men who put their own lives at risk to save his.

Seamus O’Neill, Barry McConville and Thomas Quinn – all from the Coalisland area - recall how their water-skiing trip to Portstewart turned into a rescue mission at Castlerock.

Also in the episode, a group of former students from Queen’s University Belfast are reunited with their rebellious younger selves through previously unseen Rag Day photographs taken in March 1971.

Richard Shortland. INCR 15-702-CON

Richard Shortland. INCR 15-702-CON

Fellow student and wannabe photographer Norman Craig followed the annual Rag parade as it created mayhem in Belfast city centre.

Among Norman’s black and white reminders of lives long since forgotten are pictures of former Irish President, Mary McAleese and Belfast City Councillor, John Kyle.

Programme two focuses on charity volunteers who travelled to Moldova in 1999 to help at an orphanage in the city of Hincesti.

Harrowing pictures of children in an appalling state of neglect had prompted the biggest-ever convey of humanitarian aid to leave Northern Ireland.

Seamus ONeill, Barry McConville andThomas Quinn in conversation with RIchard Shortland. INCR 15-703-CON

Seamus ONeill, Barry McConville andThomas Quinn in conversation with RIchard Shortland. INCR 15-703-CON

The volunteers included electrician Colin Kenny, trucker Ashley McCulla and filmmaker Jeremy Higham, whose distressing footage resulted in the award-winning BBC documentary, Convoy to Moldova (2000).

Colin and Jeremy return to the home to find how their work decades ago led to a huge change in fortunes for the young people.

Other stories featured during the series include: A baby, now a young woman, born on the roadside who meets the two paramedics to whom she owes her safe entry into the world, and survivors of the 2011 Cork air crash get a chance to thank the fire crews who rescued them from the stricken plane.

Also revisited with unseen news and personal archive from the time is the story of the Northern Ireland Euro ’82 team whose theme song ‘Yer Man captured the heart of the country. But when the footballing greats come back together, are they able to re-find their singing voices?

The series is presented by Jo Scott.