A documentary produced by an Irish independent local radio station has beaten off competition from major national broadcasters to win gold at the at the New York Festivals Radio Awards.
’The Rescue’, produced by Clare FM, tells the story of Clare’s cave rescue hero Jim Warny, who played a central part in the rescue of twelve boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand last year.
Members from the Wild Boars football team became trapped in a network of caves by rising floodwaters. One Thai navy seal diver was lost his life during the rescue effort however the soccer team and their coach were eventually safely brought to the surface.
The documentary is a revealing insight into the remarkable rescue that saw Ennisman Jim join a team of international divers in the unique operation to safely extract the boys and their soccer coach from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.
Jim offered his services and when accepted, he dropped everything, jumped on a plane on a Saturday morning, and joined the rescue effort 24 hours later.
Along with Jim, who was the focus of the documentary, there are contributions from fellow members of the Irish cave diving community, two other members of the international team who took part in the operation in Thailand, Belgium’s Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Pierre Emmanuel de Bauw, and An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The programme was produced by Padraic Flaherty and Gavin Grace, and was honoured with a Gold Award at the New York Festivals Radio Awards ceremony in Manhattan on Monday night.
The awards, described as the “World Cup of Radio”, attracts hundreds of entries from radio stations in almost 40 countries, and the Gold Award is among their highest accolades.
Padraic Flaherty, who is also Clare FM’s Head of Operations, said: “We are delighted to receive this award, which is one of the biggest in Clare FM’s near thirty-year history.
Only a small fraction of the programmes entered into the New York awards receive Gold, and we are proud to say that The Rescue and Clare FM now stand alongside the best of work from the likes of the BBC, the Canadian Broadcast Company, Al Jazeera and other entries from Sweden, Germany, the UK, USA and South Korea.
“Clare FM is the only local radio station in Ireland to receive a trophy of any colour in this year’s New York Festivals Radio Awards. We’re proud to be local, and to deliver the best of radio to the listeners of Co. Clare, and this award is testimony to the high standards of the entire Clare FM team,” Mr Flaherty said.
Speaking from New York, Gavin Grace, who also presents the station's flagship talkshow Morning Focus, paid tribute to Jim Warny as he accepted the award.
“We entered The Rescue into the Heroes category of the New York Awards, and I’m thrilled that the judges agree with our assessment that Jim Warny and his fellow divers should absolutely be regarded as heroes.”
“We were very pleased when Jim trusted us to tell his story, and his openness about just what happened inside the Chiang Rai cave led to some breath-taking radio. Jim’s help was also invaluable in other ways, allowing us to interview Chris Jewell and Josh Bratchley, two other members of the rescue team. It’s fair to say that we would not have won this award without Jim’s support, and we’re very grateful for that.”