This article is part of the Our CQ Winter Edition. To read the online edition click here.
Sean McCarry founded the Community Rescue Service in 2007 and since then he has been instrumental in expanding the organisation, helping to ensure that many people have been able to return home.
There are many people who give up their spare time to volunteer for many worthy causes.
But there can be few as important as Sean McCarry and his team.
Sean is the founder and Regional Commander of CRS (Community Rescue Service). The Community Rescue Service responds to more than 400 missing persons and emergency incidents every year, with members volunteering in excess of 90,000 hours of their time.
Originally serving the North Coast area, the charity has expanded and now serves five districts whilst still providing a vital service to the people of Coleraine and surrounding areas.
CRS, the only accredited Lowland rescue organisation in Northern Ireland, has been providing invaluable assistance to those in need since October 2007 and has grown to around 300 volunteers at present.
With the formation of the PSNI, it soon became apparent that a rescue service to assist the police on operations was required.
“I was approached by the PSNI initially because there was nothing like this in Northern Ireland,” explained Sean.
“So I then founded the Community Rescue Service.”
Sean and his fantastic team are all volunteers and there is a role for anyone interested in assisting.
“Availability, capability and suitability are the three things we look for,” added Sean.
“Age is no barrier. We have so many different roles within the organisation, from the search and rescue team to manning the control room, fundraising and so much more.
“So if you’re suitable then there will be a position for you.
“In fact we are currently looking to recruit across all areas of CRS.”
Many readers will have seen the work Sean and his team do following the BBC documentary The Search.
“It really raised our profile which was brilliant,” continued Sean.
“We met the producers beforehand and explained the message we wanted to get across to the public.
“The programme raised awareness about the services we provide and definitively raised our profile.
“I’d like to think that most people, not everyone, now knows what Community Rescue Service does.”
Sean’s work was rewarded when he was awarded the OBE earlier this year for Services to the Community in Northern Ireland.
He will attend an investiture ceremony in November attended by Prince William.
“The award is for every single volunteer on our team. It is a recognition of the community who support the rescue service, the many volunteers, their families, for those, past and present, who have been involved, who built up this organisation. I will be very proud to receive it.”
Although a plan is in place for when Sean steps back from the front line, that won’t be anytime soon.
“Yes, we have a succession plan already set up.
“The future of CRS is in safe hands but I intend playing a fully active role.”
The Community Rescue Service shop, 6 The Diamond, Coleraine, sells a wide range of pre-loved goods and furniture to help create awareness and raise valuable funds for the service. Why not call in when you are next in town.