Funding boost for Foyle Search and Rescue after busy January

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The chairperson of Foyle Search and Rescue has welcomed the allocation of a grant of more than £13,000 for the organisation.

The funding boost, revealed by the charity on Thursday past, was delivered by the Department for Transport, for flood rescue equipment and training.

Foyle Search and Rescue chairman Stephen Twells says the money will make a significant difference to the work carried out by the group which is known locally as Derry’s fourth emergency service.

The Inshore and Inland rescue boat grant scheme gives voluntary groups crucial funding for new equipment and training to support their rescue efforts in and around inland and inshore waterways.

Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ the Foyle Search and Rescue chairperson said: “It was really good for us to get the grant. This will equip us better in situations where we’re needed for flood response and will help us do rescues in fast flowing water. This will triple the number of volunteers we have who will be trained to deal with flood emergencies.”

While the funding is welcomed, Stephen Twells said the charity would not be able to operate without the support and generosity of people in Derry and the North West.

“We get 85 per cent of our funding to help cover our running costs from donations from members of the public. People in Derry are hugely supportive of us,” he said. The group is also funded by Derry and Strabane District Council and the Public Health Agency.

During the month of January alone, members of Foyle Search and Rescue rescued three people from the River Foyle. One of those rescues was on a duty night during which volunteers were on patrol, while the other followed a notification to the Foyle Search and Rescue pager. In the same month, the charity’s volunteers physically stopped three people from entering the water.

Also throughout January 14 ‘causes of concern’ were reported to the charity.

In addition, four missing person appeals were dealt with by the organisation. Members are currently involved in searches for missing Derry pensioner John Concannon and Sean Thomas Diver, who has been missing from his home in Strabane since January 27.

On Thursday past, volunteers were notified by the PSNI of a person in distress at the Foyle Bridge.

After a short period of time FSR team members removed the male to safety and he was transferred to hospital by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.