River rescue team need cash

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The Derry river rescue service says it’s in “desperate need” of financial help.

Foyle Search and Rescue says that, as its workload increases, so does its expenditure.

Spokesman Paddy Wilson says: “As a charity, we are finding it increasingly difficult to secure funding to enable us to continue the work we do in Derry and, more frequently, the surrounding areas.

“Our unique work does not often meet funding criteria, even though what we do is of immense value to our city.

“To add to our everyday burden of running costs - which can be as much as £50,000 to £70,000 each year - our launching pontoon and boats were damaged twice in 2010 as a result of the extreme weather conditions on the river.

“Our pontoon is currently out of the water - which impacts on our response times - awaiting repairs. We have received a repair and upgrade estimate of £70,000 - and that’s just to protect it from ice in the future. Without this work, we will be unable to get insurance.”

Meanwhile, the organisation has revealed that 2010 was its busiest year since its formation 18 years ago.

Paddy Wilson says: “Our statistics speak for themselves. To date, we have stopped more than 1,800 potential suicides, rescued more than 135 people from the river and recovered 70 bodies.

“In the past two years alone, we have taken 170 distressed individuals away from the river’s edge and rescued 30 people from the river.

“Without the intervention of our volunteers, our city would be a much darker place.”