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Appeal to Surfers to Participate in "Paddle-Out" for Sligo Community Mental Health Project

9th August 2022
Calling all surfers! Sligo’s new community mental health facility, Flourish, is calling for surfers to set Irish paddle out record on September 17 at Rosses Point to raise funds and awareness. Pictured are Flourish volunteers (l-r) Lidiya Mokra, Conor Burns, Hugh Myles and Maëlenn Nardot
Calling all surfers! Sligo’s new community mental health facility, Flourish, is calling for surfers to set Irish paddle out record on September 17 at Rosses Point to raise funds and awareness. Pictured are Flourish volunteers (l-r) Lidiya Mokra, Conor Burns, Hugh Myles and Maëlenn Nardot

Surfers have been invited to help set a new Irish “paddle out” record next month while raising funds for a community mental health project in Sligo.

The first “Big Board Meeting”, as it is called, is set for September 17th, when surfers will paddle out from Rosses Point beach outside Sligo town and form a circle.

Surfers of all abilities can participate, for an entry fee of 20 euros, and organisers hope to draw a number that can rival the 500 surfers who took part in a similar “paddle out” at Huntington beach, California in 2017.

The circle ritual has been held in the past as a mark of respect following the death of a surfer. However, in this case, the plan is to set an Irish record for the largest circle of surfers formed at sea, and to generate set-up costs for a new volunteer-led facility spearheaded by community mental health initiative Flourish.

Flourish, which is based on Clarion Road, Ballytivnan, Co Sligo, says it aims to create a bridge between voluntary community organisations and statutory services such as the HSE Primary Care and Mental Health/Health and Wellbeing supports.

It says that Ballytivnan has “long been associated with psychiatric care”, and the nearby Clarion Hotel was previously St Columba’s Hospital, Sligo’s psychiatric hospital, until it closed in 1992.

Part of the lands were used to farm the food for the hospital, and provided “therapeutic horticulture” to those who availed of the services. Flourish says it plans a revamped garden, along with a premises including a café, kitchen and “safe and welcoming spaces” to access supports.

Flourish representative Hugh Myles explains that “as we’re an organisation based in Sligo, a county synonymous with surfing and the great outdoors, the ritual of surfers paddling out and joining hands seemed a particularly poignant way to remember those who have tragically died as a result of suicide across the north west”.

“This facility will be the first of its type in Ireland, one for people who need to feel comfortable to talk. The café and gardens are designed to serve as an ice-breaker for people in crisis, while our training centre will help supply up to 300 volunteers with training in active listening. Eventually, the facility will be open 24/7, providing a round-the-clock refuge to those in need,”he says.

To register or donate click here

Fourish has also established a GoFundMe page here

Published in Surfing
Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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