Two local heroes from Derry-Londonderry are joining the Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew after being awarded bursary places for their work in the community.

Shane Brunker, 56, and Danny Bryce, 39, have both been named as recipients of the ‘Voice of the Community’ bursary that was gifted to Derry City and Strabane District Council by Clipper Race organisers to mark the third race partnership with the city.

Local community groups were invited to nominate individuals who had dedicated their time to improving the lives of others within the district. Shane and Danny found out they would be sailing a leg of the Clipper Race at a Civic Reception in the Guildhall, hosted by Mayor Elisha McCallion, in honour of the 2015-16 Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper and crew’s visit to the city for their team building weekend.

Shane, who was nominated for his work with Happy Mondays 21, a youth club for people with Down Syndrome, says: “One of our objectives at Happy Mondays 21 is to encourage our members to experience new adventures that would push them physically, intellectually and emotionally. By going on the Clipper Race I will be doing the same.

“The training and the race itself is totally different from anything l have ever done before and will certainly challenge me in every way. In this respect my empathy for what our young people experience in everyday life would be all the more felt and hopefully make me more able to support them reach their goals.”

Happy Mondays 21 Secretary Dr Sandra McDermott, who nominated Shane, explained her reasons for putting him forward for the race place: “Shane is the man with the "can do" attitude. In all the years he has worked with these young people he never sees the "disability" before the ability. Nominating Shane for the Clipper Race ‘Voice of the Community’ bursary is a sign of our enormous appreciation for his relentless work, ideas and attitude.

“Shane is already beginning to think how he can use it to benefit and challenge the members of the Happy Mondays Club. He has plans to develop a sailing programme with emphasis on long distance. This will include adaptations, if necessary, in keeping with ability and the overall aim would be for the group to sail to Scotland.

Joining Shane to pick up his red crew jacket in front of the Mayor and Derry~Londonderry~Doire team was Danny Bryce, who works for Extern, a group for vulnerable young people. Danny says: “I gain great personal satisfaction from helping people and making a contribution to their lives. I view the ability to do this as a privilege and I am lucky to have made this my career as a youth and community worker.

“Working as a team is of paramount importance when providing a safe and effective service to vulnerable people. The Clipper Race is all about team. Extern owns a 40ft Ketch on Lough Erne which we sail with the children during summer camps and my experience on the Clipper Race would ensure I could contribute to this activity.”

Danny was nominated for a ‘Voice of the Community’ bursary place by Helena Coyle, who said: “Danny has worked tirelessly in this community for over 20 years. He is dedicated to the young people of Derry and the North West and has developed many supports through his work with Extern.

“Danny is constantly giving up his spare time to continue this work and his participation in the Clipper Race would be a dream come true for him, as well as being a great way for Extern to celebrate 30 years of community support in the North West working with thousands of children and their families.”

Clipper Race Chief Executive William Ward, who founded the race with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1996, says: “The ‘Voice of the Community’ bursary was designed to reward two people from Derry-Londonderry and Strabane who have made a real difference to the local community.

“We were very impressed by the nominations made on Shane and Danny’s behalf. Their selflessness, determination and enthusiasm will no doubt make them assets to the Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew and we hope they return from the experience as even stronger role models to the young people they inspire.”

Watch the moment that Skipper Daniel told Shane and Danny that they would be joining his crew in this year's race by clicking here.

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