The outstanding work selflessly carried out by the members of Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue has been acknowledged by Clonmel-based medical devices manufacturing company Boston Scientific. The company which employs 700 people recently handed over the keys to a beautiful four wheel drive to the local voluntary group following the company’s annual fundraising drive.
Each year a Boston Scientific Charity Committee co-ordinates a number of fundraising events throughout the year, supported by the staff at the company, to benefit a charitable or voluntary organisation. Carrick River Rescue were the worthy recipient of this year’s campaign, agreed Paudie O’Connor vice-president operations, Boston Scientific in Clonmel.
“We are extremely proud of the work that we do in supporting a local charity, and Carrick River Rescue were very worthy recipients,” he said.
There were a number of reasons why the Carrick-based group were chosen, he explained.
“Firstly they were nominated by an employee here, secondly they are unsung heroes for the work they do and thirdly they had a real need for some new equipment,” explained Mr. O’Connor. The annual fundraising drive’s focus is to raise money to purchase an asset for the chosen charity, something that they really need to help them run their operation.
This new four wheel drive will be invaluable to the work that Carrick River Rescue do, according to Michael Hickey, just one of the men responsible for keeping the organisation afloat for all these years.
“On behalf of Carrick River Rescue we would like to sincerely thank the employees of Boston Scientific, we are absolutely delighted, it would take us years and years to save up for a vehicle like this,” he said.
“The van we were driving didn’t have four-wheel drive which made it very difficult to pull the boats at times, depending on where we would be.” The new four-year-old Ford Ranger will make life a little easier in what are very challenging and tough times for the River Rescue members who, although based in Carrick-on-Suir, have navigated rivers all around Ireland in search of people’s loved ones.
In the past six months Carrick River Rescue have travelled to Northern Ireland four times, to Limerick twice, as well as Galway, Cork and more locally, Clonmel.
They travelled to Northern Ireland to partake in the search and recovery efforts of 22-year-old David Colhoun who was missing for ten months, until his skeletal remains were discovered in Lifford in February this year.
“We went up on four occasions to look for him, he was missing for ten months, and we went back up for the funeral a few weeks ago,” said Mr. Hickey. He said that all rescue services were given an opportunity by David’s family to carry his coffin for a short distance at the funeral.
It was a privilege to have been part of that, he said, recalling a conversation that he had with David’s father on Christmas day last. “That man was out on the River Foyle that day looking for his son,” he said. On the same day Mr. Hickey and other members of Carrick River Rescue were in Limerick searching for another loved-one lost to the waters.
They were also involved in the rescue operation in Glandore Harbour following the sinking of the trawler, the Tit Bonhomme, resulting in the deaths of five crew members.
“We took the Skipper of that trawler, Michael Hayes, from the water that day, with the help of relative of his,” said Mr, Hickey.
The work of Carrick River Rescue is essential and sadly has become more needed in recent times. River rescue in Carrick evolved from the riverine heritage and expertise of the fishermen from the town. If somebody had gone into the river, under any circumstances, the men with the boats were called and they did everything they could. From there however river rescue in Carrick has become more organised, professional, skilful and reputable which is why they are involved in most recovery operations.
“I got involved 36 years ago, but a lot of members’ fathers would have been involved in the early days. It has been in the town for well over 50 years, originally concentrated in the Carrick area, but now everywhere. We are out more frequently, we are more professional and more widespread.”
Fundraising is essential to enable them to carry on doing the awe-inspiring work that they do. And every cent they receive goes straight back into the organisation, for equipment, maintaining and buying the boats, travelling expenses and much more in an endless list. They have a policy of never accepting donations from family members, but gratefully accept fundraising proceeds and in this respect are travelling to Northern Ireland next week to a fundraiser organised by David Colhoun’s family.
But the satisfaction of finding that lost person is reward that is unrivalled. “The reward that we get is finding the person, it is so rewarding to be able to do that, I have had well paid jobs but none of them were more rewarding than this,’ said Mr. Hickey. But it can be distressing too. “It can be difficult, especially if you know someone, that’s not easy, but somehow you have to switch off. We don’t get counselling, we deal with it in our own way,” he said.
Some members will search for a body but will not assist in taking the body in because they just cannot do it.
“If you can’t deal with it, don’t do it,” said Mr. Hickey. He thanked everyone who has donated to or helped Carrick River Rescue in anyway over the years and assured people once again that any money received goes straight into the organisation. Check out Carrick River Rescue on Facebook.