I first became aware of FSR in 1995 when I had come home from University in England on holidays, asking who were the ones wearing the orange coats standing on Craigavon Bridge, I thought they they were mad standing out a night like that, the weather was terrible, little did I know.
In 1997 I returned from England and decided that I would like to join the group who I would see standing on the bridge.
I was interviewed by FSR volunteers Graeme and Michelle.
It was a scary introduction into what was going on during troubling times for our city, and seeing people who had sunk to such a low point in their life that suicide was their only answer, this made me realise that if I could help even one person at least I had tried my best.
I met some great characters within the charity, and developed a sense of humour which was at times needed.
At that point in time suicide was a very hush-hush affair with no-one really wanting to discuss it, now however in 2016 with the advancements of social media, the public are more aware of the role FSR play in the community.
In 2000 I took a step back from the charity and returned several months later, at this time I was also volunteering with the British Red Cross which lasted 7 years.
Having entered my 19th year with FSR, which totals over 25 years of combined voluntary service that has passed in a blink of an eye.
I have completed training courses such as Emergency First Responder, Asist, Boat Training, and various counselling courses over the years, with more that I wish to do in the future such as Jet-skis, Radio courses and get involved with the education element of the charity.
Over recent years I have become aware also of the commitment and support from my family and friends for what I do, although I may be the Volunteer they are the ones who have helped by sacrificing time to enable me to do this role, and have been their for me during some of the more troubling situations that I have dealt with over the years.
Has it been worth it ? For me personally yes, to know that I have with my FSR colleagues directly interacted with almost 3000 people in times of need gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction.
All those who have Volunteered with FSR and walked through the gates are to be admired and respected for they have helped bring this charity to its current level of standing being known locally as the ‘4th Emergency Service’.
I have been awarded my 5, 10, and 15 year FSR Service Awards, along with being presented the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal for voluntary service which is proudly displayed in my home. I have a target of 25 years to aim for next.
For myself and other FSR volunteers our service with the Charity is no longer for me about being a volunteer, it is now an integral part of us and who we are as people, and I am very proud to be able to call myself a Foyle Search & Rescue Volunteer in 2016.