More than 70 certificates were presented to local children and adults for their exploits on the sea last week as the Southend Family Resource Centre (SFRC) held a special Sailing and Kayaking Awards Ceremony. The event, which took place in St Mary’s GAA club, was opened by the Southend Sea Shanty Singers before local councillor George Lawlor presented the awards which recognised achievements in rescue and emergency care, sailing, powerboats, and safety boats.
Set up in 2012 by Declan Geoghegan, the SFRC kayaking club was originally created to provide an activity for local schoolchildren but was subsequently expanded to enable all those living in the community to participate in kayaking. SRFC applied for a council grant for equipment and training, a group of local people expressed an interest in becoming kayaking leaders, and thus the club became an official arm of the centre.
To date, with the funding secured from the Wexford County Council (WCC), Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAG) and Sports Active Wexford, the club has acquired 21 boats, and enough buoyancy aids and equipment to be self-sufficient. Although many of its activities were curtailed by the pandemic the kayaking club is now back in action and its leaders are currently training a new group of children. There are new members in the adult group also, 12 of whom received their Rescue & Emergency Care Training thanks to funding from the Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB).
The Southend Sailing Group was established in 2018 when manager of the SFRC, Colm O Muiri, and youth worker, Margaret Stafford, met with five local men to discuss the creation of a group dedicated to sailing, its aim to “enrich the lives of community members” and “to create space for local people to use the boats for sport or training, give children opportunities to keep the tradition of sailing alive in Maudlintown and fulfil the lives of adults and children by providing opportunities for recreation and education right on their doorsteps”.
In 2019 the SFRC registered as an Irish Sailing Training Centre and, with the help and devotion of all the volunteers, training was opened up to local children.
2021 was a busy year for the sailors and saw the staging of the first ever Maudlintown Topaz Race, which included a race for both children and adults. “The atmosphere at this event was powerful. The sense of community and excitement was fantastic,” said Colm..
In September the sailors participated in an Irish Sailing initiative which encouraged members of the community to try sailing for the first time. Irish Sailing provided funding for the instructor and refreshments and volunteers from the local community helped to make the day a great success.
"As a community they have come together so that they, their children as well as other local children can partake in these sessions,” added Colm.