Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, has announced that Foyle Search and Rescue will be his official charity for his term in office..
Cllr. Boyle said he was privileged and honoured to choose the charity, and promised to do all he could during his Mayoral year to promote the work of the charity and its volunteers, as well as help raise their profile and money.
He said: “Foyle Search and Rescue volunteers selflessly give up 17,000 hours a year of their own time, to make a difference to people’s lives.
“Last year alone they saved 17 people from the river and stopped 129 people from entering the water. They dealt with another 186 incidents and sadly recovered the bodies of six people who lost their lives. I am delighted to be in a position where I can help promote that work and do what I can to raise money for them.”
The Mayor will host a range of events over the coming year and donate the proceedings to Foyle Search and Rescue.
These will include the Mayor’s Family Fun Day and Christmas Choral Festival with further details on all events to be announced throughout the year.
The Mayor expressed his gratitude for the courageous work that the charity carries out, and said: “I believe that currently the work of Foyle Search and Rescue is the very epitome of the word selfless. Their dedication and the sense of citizenship is an example to us all.”
The Mayor said the volunteers save the lives of those in the local communities, while putting their own lives at risk.
“It is essential that we raise awareness of the altruistic work that these men and women carry out on a daily basis to make our city a better place,” added.
Foyle Search and Rescue is a registered, voluntary based charity, operating in Londonderry but covers search and rescue operations UK and Ireland wide when required.
Foyle Search and Rescue was set up by local people in 1993 in response to a high number of drownings in the river (30 within 18 months) and has adopted the role of preventing suicide and supporting families in the City.
Their aim is to reduce the number of people who die through drowning in the River Foyle – one of the coldest and fastest flowing rivers in Europe.
Their volunteers are from the local community and selflessly give up hours of their personal time every week to help those in need.
They patrol the river three nights a week, identified peak times of need, from 9.30pm to 3.00am, engaging with people in distress, maintaining lifebelts and saving lives.
They have an Emergency Response Pager Team, made up of 15 dedicated volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for incidents and emergencies outside of patrol times. This team are paged by the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) to respond to potential suicide attempts and incidents in and around the river. This team also acts as a body recovery team who search for any person missing in the river and recover the body with the greatest dignity.
They also provide an education programme on water safety and suicide awareness to local schools, workplaces and community groups.
Pat Carlin, Education and Media Officer, Foyle Search and Rescue, said: “We are overjoyed with the Mayor’s decision to select us as his chosen charity for 2018/19.
“It means a great deal to us and more importantly to the people of the city, that not only can we continue our work, but increase the community’s awareness of what we do.”
Chairperson Stephen Twells, also expressed his gratitude, and added: “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people of this city.
“The people, the Council and the Public Health Agency have been our three biggest supporters and we are greatly honoured that the mayor has chosen us as his Mayoral charity and look forward to working with him this year.”