The family of a man who died in a tragic swimming accident in the River Foyle have smashed their fundraising target ahead of completing a 300-mile cycle to Derry in his memory.
Speaking during the epic challenge, Sam Comber’s father praised the people of Derry and local charity Foyle Search and Rescue for their help and assistance during the search and recovery operation back in May.
Sam (39) was originally from Hinckley in Leicestershire and relocated to Derry in 2016. It is believed he had gone swimming in the Foyle without knowing how dangerous the river was. His body was recovered several days later.
As a thank you for the help they received at the time, the family of the 39-year-old organised the Ride For Sam in aid of Foyle Search and Rescue. Initially, they had set a target of £2,000, but due to the response raised this to £3,000. By Friday the new target had been surpassed.
Chris Comber and family friend David (known as Willie) set off from Hinckley bound for Derry on August 2 and arrived in Northern Ireland via the Liverpool Ferry at the weekend. They are now making their way along the Antrim coast and will be arriving in Limavady tomorrow (Wednesday) before setting off on the last leg into Derry on Thursday. Sam’s mother Catherine Ahearne and another family friend, Kenn, have joined them in Belfast, and Chris said he is hopeful more cyclists will come along, particularly for the last leg into Derry.
In a poignant gesture, they will arrive in Derry via the house in Cullion where Sam had lived in “his adopted home” of Derry, with members of Foyle Search and Rescue joining them on Thursday.
Speaking en route, Chris said: “Foyle Search and Rescue recovered our son and they looked after us very well when we were doing the search. They helped us, supported us and took care of us. We were a family in bits and they held us together. They were completely invaluable at a time when we were deeply in shock and didn’t really know what to do. I can’t praise them enough.”
Chris said the cycle was very much a homage to his son and to local people. “Sam was a keen cyclist so this is very much a memorial as well. He moved from where he grew up and he absolutely loved Derry and was so happy there. Tragically he didn’t live to enjoy it even more.
“This is also a tribute to the City of Derry itself. On the day Sam was, thankfully, found, dozens of people had responded and a lot of people had been with us for days.”
He described his son as “a very gentle, very caring and very friendly person, who never had a bad word to say about anyone”, but who was also “a bit of risk taker”.
Chris said that as well as online donations, people were offering them donations along the route. “The response has been amazing. I’m very humbled by it. If this helps Foyle Search & Rescue then that is great,” he said.
For progress on the cycle ride, check out the ‘Ride For Sam’ Facebook Page at: www.facebook.com/Ride-For-Sam-2017-776609455832781/.
To donate go to the https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rideforsam2017