Foyle Search & Rescue in tribute to ‘gentle, caring giant’, volunteer Bill McElhinney

The former chairman of Foyle Search and Rescue has led tributes after the sad passing of ‘gentleman and dedicated volunteer’ Bill McElhinney.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 9:23 am
Foyle Search and Rescue volunteer Bill McElhinney pictured in his garden by the Journal back in 2016. DER1716GS016

Stephen Twells, speaking on behalf of the charity, in a post on its Facebook page, described how Mr McElhinney had been a major part of the charity for over a decade, along with his wife Beth who is also a FSR volunteer.

A former President and Captain at City of Derry Golf Club, Bill McElhinney passed away peacefully on Friday in hospital.

Mr Twells said: “I had the pleasure of being introduced to Bill 13 years ago, while giving a talk about FSR to a men’s group in Bishops Street alongside another great volunteer, the late Uel Hamilton.

Foyle Search and Rescue volunteer Bill McElhinney. DER1716GS014

“Bill immediately came up to me afterwards and showed a genuine interest in not just what FSR did, but wanting to help us in any way he could. He joined us shortly after that. Straight away, he showed a natural ease using our radios, which he enjoyed taking charge of immensely.

“Bill, big in stature, was a polite, gentle, caring giant. He was always welcoming to everyone he spoke with, had time for each and every volunteer, showing them the ropes and passing on his wealth of knowledge. He dealt with every situation in a calm, professional manner.

“I will fondly remember Bill, and his wife Beth, also a volunteer with FSR, sitting in the very front row of every volunteer meeting or AGM that he attended.

“He spoke kindly of, and to, everyone, offering encouragement at every opportunity.

“When he wasn’t doing duty nights Bill was always fundraising, especially with the City of Derry Golf Club for FSR. Bill never gave up volunteering, even in recent years, spending more time helping with counting donations and being around the base, when he was no longer able to carry out operational duties.

“One of life’s true gentlemen, Bill will be fondly remembered, and sadly missed, by all volunteers and staff of FSR, past and present. Rest in peace Bravo Mike Echo. Over and out.”

The Foyle Search and Rescue team said its thoughts and prayers go out to Beth and the family.

In an interview back in 2016 (see below) Bill described how he joined the charity after his retirement and praised the work it was doing.

He said: “They are a great team of people and there’s great job satisfaction.

“At my age, you like to think you can do something to help the community. That was always important to me. The work that Foyle Search and Rescue do is so, so important.”

Read More

Read More
Meet Bill, 80, a Foyle Search and Rescue volunteer