A group of Maritime Ambassadors gathered at the Guildhall recently to graduate from the KickStart to Work programme. Nearly 20 individuals collected certificates for canoeing, angling and powerboating as well as coaching qualifications. The Maritime Ambassador programme is organised by Loughs Agency and Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Speaking about the course Maritime Ambassador Terrence Kelly said ‘the highlight for me was the coaching. Also the journeys we took paddling along the beautiful Inishowen coastline and fishing from the canoes’. Terrence would encourage others to join the programme which runs three times a year. ‘It’s a great opportunity. I’d do it again tomorrow if I could. It’s good craic and I’m hoping the assistant coaching qualification will open up new employment opportunities for me! You get well looked after and plenty of support’ said Terrence.
The graduates were presented with their certificates by the trainers who coached them over the 7 week programme namely Inish Adventures, Ocean Youth Trust and Irish Angling Development Alliance.
Another Maritime Ambassador, Strabane man Joe Barr said ‘the highlight of the course for me was the canoeing. I remember being nervous about capsizing the canoe as I wouldn’t be overly confident in the water. But I did it and as a result of the programme I now have confidence in the water’. As well as gaining qualifications Joe said ‘he has made new friendships with the other participants on the course as well as making contacts with people which could lead to future employment opportunities’.
Community Engagement Officer Rosemary McCloskey at Loughs Agency said, ‘this programme aims to develop the skills, knowledge and qualifications of local people to become Maritime Ambassadors. The hope is that they will use the experience to pursue employment or volunteer opportunities linked to their new qualifications. The Foyle, its tributaries, estuary and the local coast are a great resource and provide a stunning landscape for new businesses and recreational hobbies to blossom.’
The next course will start in April 2016 and is free of charge to anyone unemployed and living within the Derry and Strabane District Council area. If you are interested and would like to register please contact either Rosemary McCloskey at Loughs Agency, 02871 342100 or Geraldine O’hEara at Derry City and Strabane District Council, 02871 308466.
Caption: Recent Graduates of the Maritime Ambassador Programme organised by Loughs Agency and Derry City and Strabane District Council
Mr Sean O Heliphe, receiving the Philip Gent Memorial Cup from Mrs Marion Gent along with Philip’s extended family at the recent Maritime Ambassador graduation organised by Loughs Agency and Derry City and Strabane District Council’s KickStart to Work programme. Sean completed his canoeing, angling and powerboating qualifications with Philip earlier in the year before Philip’s untimely death in October 2015.