Rowing community pull together for Focus Ireland

David Flood and the High Hopes Choir.
Photo: Kevin O’Gorman.

On Friday, January 27th, supporters of All in a Row – Helping Homeless were at the Poolbeg Yacht Club to present a cheque for €34,000 to Sinéad Price, Co-Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Focus Ireland, on behalf of the east coast rowing community.

Price thanked the organisers of the event and everybody who took part on behalf of Focus Ireland saying, “It’s great to see so many people come together to help raise money for the homeless. Homelessness robs people of their dignity and livelihood and can be prevented. People like you will solve the problem, not only by raising such an extraordinary amount of money, but by raising the issue of homelessness. Without events like this, Focus Ireland would not be in a position to help as many people as we do, but in spite of all we do the problem is growing and it is impossible to keep up with the growing demand.”

The 500-kilometre sponsored row took place on Saturday, 26th November, 2016. For the first time ever, it brought together all the varieties of rowing craft you see on the Liffey.

It was the brainchild of David Kelly, who organised the event in what has to be a record time for such an endeavour, a mere five weeks from idea to fruition He commented: “It was unusual for so many different boats and so many different clubs to be on the water together. I don’t know if anything like this ever happened before.”

When asked why he chose to undertake such a daunting challenge in such a short time he said, “There’s not enough happening on the river when the season is over. I like to be there all year round. You do a lot of thinking when you’re rowing, it’s like a blank canvas. Ideas come into your head, some good and some silly. This came instantly and I knew straight away it had to be something because of the homeless situation. In a lot of ways it was easy, everybody seemed to love it – putting the boats back in the water at this time of the year, pulling together to try do something for people who don’t have a home. Everybody we asked to get involved wanted to help.”

Kelly also added: “Many people who never thought about homelessness now feel it is closer to them than they ever thought it would or could be. It can happen to anyone. People are more aware now, and really want to help.”

The highlight of the evening for the rowers and supporters at the club was a performance by the High Hopes Choir. The High Hopes Choir was created by RTE Concert Orchestra conductor David Brophy, who set out to change the lives of homeless people through singing. David Flood, the choir’s Assistant Director, told NewsFour that this was their first gig since their highly praised performance in Christchurch Cathedral just before Christmas. Their performance was every bit as exciting as you would expect it to be if you saw the documentary and the audience loved it.

By Jennifer Reddin