Sweet Foyle, flow softly: Young ambassadors get into their river

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Over twenty young men and women from Londonderry and Donegal have graduated as ‘Foyle Ambassadors’ after having spent months getting onto and into the River Foyle, its tributaries, estuary, wildlife and the recreational opportunities it holds.

The young people completed the 10 week programme, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Loughs Agency, and co-ordinated through Co-operation Ireland, between September and December.

In the presence of their friends, family and invited guests, the Foyle Ambassadors were called to the stage in the City Hotel to collect their certificates, receiving accreditation for angling, powerboating, canoeing and the prestigious John Muir Discovery Award.

Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive of Co-Operation Ireland said: “This is the second year of the very successful Foyle Ambassadors programme working in partnership with the Loughs Agency and the local community to deliver a personal development and good relations programme.

“This year we were delighted to add the cross-border element with participants from here in the city and Donegal.” Mr Sheridan continued: “As a result of the programme, these young people have gained a better understanding of the river as a community resource that belongs to us all, a shared space, a dynamic uniting force that flows through the city.

“Strong and powerful as it is, it is also vulnerable and requires attention. Hopefully it can become a symbol of the strong bonds the young participants of this programme have developed”.

Kevin Wilson, Director of Development at Loughs Agency said: “The Foyle Ambassadors programme has been a fantastic success and the feedback we have received from participants, parents and our activity providers has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The Ambassadors have really engaged and enjoyed taking part in the programme”.

The programme aimed to raise awareness of the natural resources and biodiversity of the River Foyle, its tributaries, estuary and the local coast. “Through a range of activities including canoeing, surfing, angling, boating, clean ups, surveys and other conservation projects the young people have a new positive connection with the river.

Speaking after the event Community Engagement Officer, Rosemary McCloskey said: “The Ambassadors are a bit sad that the programme has come to end but it’s really just the beginning.

“We’ll be launching a volunteer programme soon and many of these young people are very keen to get involved to pass on the knowledge they have gained as a result of the programme”.

The common theme of the project is the River.

The purpose of the programme is to get young people connected with the River Foyle, its tributaries, estuary, its wildlife and the recreational opportunities it holds.

The next Foyle Ambassador project will begin in the spring through funding received from the National Lottery Young Roots programme. For more information, contact rosemary.mccloskey@loughs-agency.org.