Lough Ree Sub Aqua Club must urgently raise €12,000 if it is to secure a replacement compressor pump and become operational in the near future. To this end, the club has organised a major fund-raising night for Friday, August 31 next, at St. Faithleach’s GAA Club, Ballyleague, Lanesboro.
“It will be a night filled with many different musicians including Jimmy Hussey, Can’t Hardly Play Boys, and a whole host of other special guests,” said John Fayne, Public Relations Officer with the club.
From his tone of voice, it is clear that John, like others belonging to the highly reputed lifesaving club, was devastated in the aftermath of a fire at the clubhouse and rescue centre on the night of Monday, July 16, last. It is believed that the blaze was caused by a fault in a van that was stored within the building.
“A local man was passing the building when he saw smoke billowing from under the door. He alerted the Gardai and the Fire Brigade and they were there in a few minutes. The Fire Brigade cooled down the fire and when they got into the building and opened it up, then they realised the amount of damage done,” recalled John.
He continued: “A van, two boats and a lot of the interior of the building was destroyed. In total we’re looking at about €160,000 worth of damage.”
Although the insurance process is under way, the replacement of the compressor is seen to be of the utmost urgency.
“We need to get our services up and running pretty quickly and we need the compressor to pump the bottles. Most of the bottles were also damaged in the fire but other clubs around the midlands have helped us out greatly,” said John. “All we have left is one small boat that survived the fire. We are totally out of action right now.”
Describing the overall mood at the club since the fire, John said: “On the evening of the fire we were all devastated but then we realised that it could be a lot worse. Next year we are celebrating 30 years of the club – 30 very successful years of saving lives and building up members. Today we have 40 members.
“We’re looking forward positively and we are grateful for the amount of help we have received.”
Among those to offer assistance was county Roscommon Volkswagen dealership, John Keane and Sons, who provided the club with a new Volkswagen LT van.
“We were pleased to be able to help,” said John Keane. “We know the tremendous work the Lough Ree Sub Aqua Club does for families who are waiting to try and recover the remains of their loved ones from the waterways when tragedy strikes.”
John Fayne, who has been a member of the club since 1988, added that the amount of goodwill in the community after the fire was “incredible”.
“I would like to thank anyone who helped out in any way. We look forward to getting back to providing the service that we provided prior to this fire,” he said.
The fundraising night on August 31 starts at 10pm and tickets, costing €10 each, are available from all local shops and from club members. Children are free.