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Eoin Bannon, Belfast Lough Sailability

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Eoin Bannon, Belfast Lough Sailability

During Volunteers Week we are highlighting some of the wonderful volunteers who are doing such amazing things in our local communities and organisations.  One young man is proving to be invaluable to Belfast Lough Sailability in Carrickfergus.

Eoin Bannon is a volunteer (14 years old) who joined Belfast Lough Sailability as a participant in 2011.  Prior to this his family had tried to get him involved in various sports but due to his ADHD/Dyslexia and a speech impediment he had difficulty trying to participate in mainstream sports.  He also found engaging with large groups challenging and didn’t stick with any of these sports for more than a few weeks.  This all changed when he got involved with sailing, he was an extremely active participant and quickly immersed himself in kayaking or sailing.  Eoin has now become one of their most valued young volunteers, who has a natural ability to help others be they participants or other disabled volunteers.

In 2014 Eoin was given the opportunity to helm a rib competing in the RYANI Regional Honda Challenge, and took to it like a duck to water.  Lacking in confidence, he didn’t wish to take part initially but after gentle encouragement and some training, he entered into the competition.  To everyone’s delight Eoin finished 3rd place in the competition in his age group.  This made a significant difference to his confidence and he took enormous pride in doing so well representing BLS – a group he describes as his BLS family.

Apart from achieving the above, he has since participated in a number of BLS race training programmes and has represented BLS in the 2014 and 2015 Hansa Championships.  He has also represented Team Ulster in the 2014 and 2015 Presidents Cup Regatta – travelling to Kinsale, Galway and Dun Laoghaire.

These achievements have boosted Eoin’s confidence and he is one of their most enthusiastic, trusted and invaluable young volunteers, always willing to help others and ensure they have what they need to have an enjoyable and safe experience at BLS.  Eoin engages and integrates with the BLS team and assists volunteers with disabilities and participants.  He always arrives early,and is very enthusiastic to help rig and prepare the boats needed for the session.  He will readily offer his services to any task asked of him.  He is confident sailing the Hansa 303 with participants, who are disabled – either physically or with learning difficulties.  Eoin is very attentive to their needs and communicates well putting any fears they may have aside, his enthusiastic and friendly disposition makes him a favourite with many of our participants and he interacts easily with both young and not so young participants.

Through Eoin’s involvement with BLS his whole family now get fully involved with activities.  He is indeed a volunteering star!

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