The power of community delivered through radio

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Pat Foley receiving a donation from Lewis Ferguson on behalf of Limerick City Community Radio.

“COMMUNICATION leads to community, that is to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing”.

Those perceptive words from American psychologist and author Rollo May have certainly struck a chord with Limerick City Community Radio (LCCR) and the people they serve.

Pat Foley, a proud Moyross man and retired chef from iconic restaurants like the Railway Hotel and Bobby Byrnes, now hosts his own show on LCCR, which is a not-for-profit organisation supported by Wired FM, Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership (LEDP), the Community Radio Forum of Ireland (CRAOL) and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

Pat’s show gives the public an opportunity to listen to a station which they have wholeheartedly contributed to, and which is run by volunteers.

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Thirteen-year-old Lewis Ferguson, a student from Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, was recently given the opportunity by Pat to get a look behind the scenes on how a radio show is broadcast.

“Lewis was thrilled to be given the opportunity to present some of the show.  Something that he would not have been able to accomplish in the past 12 months,” said Lewis’ mum Jeannette Ferguson, who works at the Department of Media and Communication Studies at Mary Immaculate College.

“Since the first lockdown in 2020, things had been incredibly tough on Lewis and his fellow classmates from Patrickswell National School who were unable to finish a crucial year at primary school before moving on to post primary level.

“As a new adventure lay ahead, there also came a fear, a fear of the unknown. Was there going to be another Covid outbreak?  Will I make new friends? Will I fit in?  What if I get sick?  These were all thoughts swarming around in his then 12-year-old head,” she explained.

After Christmas arrived and Covid numbers increased, so did the teenager’s fear of the virus.

“News then broke in early new year that school would not be returning for the foreseeable future, and then a drowning feeling of isolation set in. He was neither equipped or prepared for the online learning environment, meeting classes online or attending live session.

“Then a pattern emerged, missed classes, lack of engagement, no work being submitted. Not a good place for a 12-year-old to be in.

“Lack of sport interaction, living in a rural location, all played a major part of losing his identity. His birthday came and went, he was lost not being able to celebrate the official ‘teenager’ with all his buddies, and toughest of all, not having seen his grandmother since December 2019 due to Covid. She was always here to see him at birthdays, summer and Christmas,” Jeanette pointed out.

“However, thanks to the kindness and generosity of spirit of the people at LCCR something changed.“Big-hearted Pat offered Lewis an opportunity to step outside his isolation bubble, and gave him an interest in something other than school or online learning. He gave him hope.“I heard our son laugh, enjoy what he was doing and not be afraid to do it, and his confidence grew. The more his confidence grew, the more I could hear him coming back to his old self. “Last week saw Lewis moving to a brand new school campus.  We are hoping that the sense of excitement will carry him through to the end of term. “As a token of his appreciation, Lewis gave a donation to Pat to help the station keep up the good work that is being shared with the community”.