Foyle Search and Rescue today received the keys of the ŠKODA Rapid that was used by Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland last August. The charity was chosen by Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin and was selected for their work on suicide prevention and family support networks offered in the city of Derry. The vehicle in question was used by his holiness on day two of his visit to Knock. Originally registered in the Republic of Ireland the Rapid had the registration number 182-D-2018 reserved to commemorate the papal visit. Now registered in Northern Ireland; the original plates take pride of place at John Mullholland Motors in Campsie, Co. Derry.
Foyle Search and Rescue was set up in 1993 by local people in Derry in response to the high number of drownings in the River Foyle. The Rapid will be used as a patrol vehicle during the identified peak times of need and will assist the team in their daily tasks and operations. Stephen Twells, chairman of Foyle Search and Rescue, commented “I was speechless when I heard the good news! Pope Francis’ car will provide a moral boost to our volunteers at this time, during what has been a very tough year for all of us in the city. I also know that this gift will be a great comfort to many families here in Derry knowing that we have been recognised by the Holy Father, and by Archbishop Martin, for the work that we do.”
On the morning of Sunday 26th August, Pope Francis landed at Knock airport in county Mayo. He was collected in the fore mentioned ŠKODA Rapid and transported to Knock shrine where an estimated 45,000 people battled the conditions to greet the Pontiff. He visited the Apparition Chapel in the grounds of the famous basilica and delivered an address to the crowd followed by the angelus and an apostolic blessing. Following this, Pope Francis was transported back to Knock airport, again in this Rapid, in advance of saying Mass at Phoenix Park later that afternoon.
Speaking today, Raymond Leddy, Head of Marketing and Product at ŠKODA Ireland, said: “ŠKODA are delighted to have been a small part of history supporting Pope Francis on his visit to Ireland. We wish Foyle Search and Rescue well with their great work. I am certain the ŠKODA Rapid will give them reliable service for many years to come. I would also like to thank John Mullholland of John Mullholland Motors who was fundamental in ensuring Pope Francis was transported in a ŠKODA during his visit to Ireland”