A small group of local people who took it upon themselves to help Foyle Search and Rescue after they were turned down for funding have raised a staggering £21,000 in less than a year.
The One Big Fundraiser team gathered with the Foyle Search and Rescue crew at their Prehen base on Tuesday night to present them with the funding.
From being set up in January through to December, the One Big Fundraiser crew swept into action and worked tirelessly to organise a wide range of events from bag packs, quizzes and family fun days to sporting events, walks and charity raves.
The One Big Fundraiser team consisted of the family and close friend of Seamus McLaughlin, who tragically lost his life to the river 13 years ago. His remains were recovered by Foyle Search and Rescue some weeks later.
His good friend Fiona McDaid and siblings Ciaran, Michelle and Leona, and mother Margaret have been spearheading the driver to raise money for the charity in his memory.
Foyle Search & Rescue and another Derry charity HURT had submitted a joint funding application for a share of a government grant to expand the training and storage base at Prehen and open a new counselling base in the city centre for people found in distress around the River Foyle, but it was revealed back in January 2014 that they had been turned down in favour of other projects, including a play park.
Fiona McDaid said the group had aiming to meet a new targeting of raising a further £10,000 by the end of 2015 for FS&R.
“We started off in January last year and Foyle Search & Rescue gave us a target of £1,000 for year. But we end up making £2,000 within a fortnight.”
“We have been going flat out over the last 18 months, we have 36 events and as of December our total was sitting at £21,365.
“We have been given the target now of £10,000 for this year, and during a recent bag pack at Iceland, Foyleside we raised £467 and we also have had a dance night at The Basement, while £200 was raised at the Inishowen Run by Bikers for Charity.”
The Forbes Memorial Cup at Magee pitches meanwhile has raised £600, with their cheque also presented at the event on Tuesday night.
One Big Fundraiser have now raised more for Foyle Search and Rescue than any other group in the charity’s 22-year history, and have issued a special thanks to Tony O’Connor from The Bentley Bar and Damien Lynch from Photoshoot on the Strand Road for their “huge support” since One Big Fundraiser started.
One Big Fundraiser have also been instrumental in raising the profile of the work of Foyle Search and Rescue among the local community across the north west, and among the younger generations in particular, as well as providing key signposting support information for those facing crisis points in their lives.
Ms McDaid said the life-saving work of Foyle Search and Rescue was as necessary today as when it was set up, if not more so.
“The amount of suicide attempts here in the town this last couple of years is really shocking.
“We have had people coming over to us, younger people, thanking us for what we are doing and throwing money into the bucket.
“These issues such as suicide and mental health ar issues that affect a lot of people and have touched a lot of lives.”
*Foyle Search and Rescue’s ‘It’s A Wipeout’ will take place over three days next weekend, from 17th to 19th July. There are still some team places left for those wanting to join over 200 others in competing in the marathon giant inflatables challenge at the Gasyard.
To find out how to enter check out: www.facebook.com/legenderrybouncycastles.burns.