THE Strabane sister of a young man who died after entering the River Foyle back in February has spoken of the “amazing” support she and her family received from the local community.
Katie Glenn, who just recently became a qualified ‘flood responder’ with Mourne Search and Rescue says she was inspired to undertake the course after her brother Jack’s sudden death.
Jack Glenn, a promising young cricketer and footballer went missing after he entered the Foyle on February 2. What followed was one of the largest searches ever seen in the north west. Hundreds of people joined search and rescue service teams – including Mourne Search and Rescue – to try and locate the 23-year-old’s remains.
Jack was eventually found at the end of March, 52 days after he initially went missing.
This week Jack’s sister Katie has remarked that joining Strabane Search and Rescue has had such a positive impact on her life.
“I always thought I wanted to do something with volunteering but until that happened to my brother, I wasn’t sure what,” Katie explained.
“My best friend Rebecca did the flood responder course with me as well and it entailed a test. We were also in the river at Sion for half a day on Saturday and then the whole day on Sunday. It was tough, very tiring.
“It’s a flood responder qualification. We got a call a few weeks ago to Mourne Search and Rescue that we might be needed to go to Texas to help with the floods but I would have needed this qualification if I was going to be able to go on something like this.”
Speaking in recent days as the heavens were opening once again, Katie was on stand-by in the event of an emergency. Being a flood responder essentially involves rescuing people from their homes in boats, if and when a flood occurs.
Katie also paid tribute to the volunteers from Mourne Search and Rescue, people she now considers her friends.
“They were very involved with the search for Jack,” she continued. “On a daily basis they were down helping in the search. We don’t have a big team at Mourne Search and Rescue but as many people as they could send were down helping out. They were just brilliant.
“The whole community was absolutely amazing during the searches. People from Strabane and Derry and from all over came to help out.”
As to the future, Katie says she’ll be with Mourne Search and Rescue for the long haul. She’s even considering the next stage of her volunteering qualification with the service, her ‘swift water badge’.
“Definitely,” she added. “It’s a positive thing. It keeps me busy and we’re out doing stuff all the time. We train in the water about twice a week.
“Sometimes when we’re out it crosses my mind – oh, my God, I’m actually doing this – but at least I’m doing something positive.
“God forbid if anything would happen again, at least there would be an extra pair of hands trying to help the family out.”