Fundraising ‘to keep Adrian’s memory alive’

The sisters of a 17-year-old who died by suicide almost 16 years ago, have launched a fundraiser in aid of Foyle Search and Rescue.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:50 pm

The sisters of a 17-year-old who died by suicide almost 16 years ago, have launched a fundraiser in aid of Foyle Search and Rescue.

Charlene McGrory and Kelly McDermott will walk 16 kilometres each day for 16 days in memory of their brother Adrian McGee.

Adrian had been missing for 16 days before his body was recovered in June 2005 and Charlene said that Foyle Search and Rescue supported the family and have ‘never left our side since’.

“Adrian was such a happy wee man, we had no signs whatsoever that he was struggling with his mental health,” Charlene said. “He had a girlfriend and a job that he loved and he was looking ahead to the future.”

On the night Adrian went missing, Charlene said her brother was ‘roaring and laughing, joking with Daddy’ when he left the family home.

However, a search commenced after Adrian failed to meet up with friends and sent a worrying message to one of them. “It was such a shock,” Charlene said. “He was so happy and content, and then that was it. It was devastating.

“Within minutes of our search starting, Foyle Search and Rescue were there with us. We were just numb, we didn’t know what we were doing but FSR were just so calming and so good to us. They explained everything to us and supported us every inch of the way during those sixteen days.”

Charlene said that during the search her mind went through every possibility and at times she held onto the hope that her brother would be ok.

“It was absolute hell. We never left the search area.  We have a huge, really close knit family and everybody was just devastated. During that time, we joined together and helped each other through it, along with the support of FSR. They haven’t left our side, even 16 years down the line.

“We have done a lot of fundraising for them over the years. We have jumped off cranes, ziplined across the Foyle, done Hard as Oak. Doing something for the organisation that did so much for us is a way for us, as a family, to keep Adrian’s memory alive.”

During a previous fundraiser, the family raised money for the charity to purchase a boat which was named ‘The Spirit of Adrian’.

“When we hear of another family searching for their loved one, we go through every feeling that family is going through. But we also feel for the team of volunteers at FSR,” Charlene said.

“They could be sitting with their own children, it could be a birthday party or Christmas and they tear themselves away for others. You don’t understand exactly what they do until it comes to your door, only then do you realise how amazing they are.”

To mark the 16th anniversary of Adrian’s passing, Charlene and Kelly will be walking 16km ever day for 16 days, to mark the length of the search.

“We are not fitness fanatics at all, so it is a big undertaking but it will be worth it,” Charlene said. “With the pandemic, charities like FSR are not getting their usual level of donations. We want to give them something back to them, particularly when they’re struggling during the pandemic.”

The sisters will be completing their walks separately due to Covid restrictions, as Charlene lives in Burnfoot and Kelly lives in Derry. However, they hope that the restrictions will be relaxed sufficiently for them to complete the last walk, on June 20, together.

To donate visit:*Anyone in distress in NI can contact Lifeline 24/7 on 0808 808 8000 in confidence; The Samaritan on 02871 265511. Anyone in distress in RoI can contact Pieta House free on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444.

Textline Ireland on 50808 - a free 24/7 text service; Ring Samaritans 24/7 on freephone number 116-123,