Archive | June, 2012

All Aboard – SOS Saturday

29 Jun

If you live in Belfast, you may recognise the big yellow buses that sit outside The Odyssey Pavilion and at Shaftesbury Square at the weekend. Like me, you may have even stopped by for a warming cuppa on your way home from a night out.

But it’s more than just tea and sympathy that’s doled out at these distinctive behemoth buses.

Over the last four years, the SOS Bus has interacted with over 120,000 people on the streets of Belfast, with the help of a dedicated network of over 150 volunteers. Some eight lives have been saved by their work, with hundreds of other young, vulnerable people reunited with grateful parents and countless others helped home safely.

Through its work, the SOS Bus helps to reduce pressure at peak times in our busy hospital A&E departments, with an on-board medical centre that provides in-depth medical and caring support. Since 2007, the SOS bus has been used to support distressed or vulnerable people who have overindulged in alcohol or drugs; have been victims of violence; are homeless; separated from their friends, or in emotional distress. And, arguably, with recent debate about 2am closing leading to an increased number of people on Belfast’s streets post pub closing time, the services of the SOS Bus are more important than ever.

Having recently been introduced, through work, to SOS Bus founder, Joe Hyland, I’ve agreed to take on my next challenge as ‘The Good Samaritan’ and tomorrow night, will spend a night as a volunteer on the SOS Bus.

My mother once told me that the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily grind and think, ‘I don’t have time for that’ (hand’s up – a problem with this blog and my ambitious challenge to attempt 29 different lives in 12 months). But perhaps, if we all took a few hours out to help others every now and again, we’d be better people for it.

I’ve no qualms about sacrificing one Saturday night to lend a helping hand to such a worthwhile project. In fact, I’m quite looking forward to it.

I just hope I can get the lyrics to ABBA’s ‘S.O.S’ out of my head before I board the bus outside The Odyssey Pavilion tomorrow night – it’s all I’ve been able to think about for the last few days.

And before you start, yes, my surname is Doyle and I will be dishing out cups of tea [it never gets old]…


Smells like Team Spirit

11 Jun

I had my first ever ‘life in slow motion’ moment at the weekend.

DoorWhore$FC – Very serious team photo…

Around three minutes into our first game at a charity football tournament, I was dutifully guarding our goal when the ball came hurtling towards me. Its trajectory was heading straight towards my face. I froze. It was as if my hands wouldn’t, or couldn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime of watching the ball spin through the air in comedic slow-mo, it smashed full force into my nose and knocked me to the ground.

I had been roped in by my friend, Alice to join her team at Roccer – the now legendary annual Belfast charity football tournament for NI bands, DJs, venues and music fans. I figured, having attempted ‘The Sports Fan’ as one of my 29 Lives, trying my hand at ‘The Sportswoman’ might be a natural follow-on challenge.

Getting hit in the face was my biggest fear of being in goal. But strangely, once it was over with and the initial shock faded, I dusted myself down and got on with it. I took one for the team. Literally.

Cheers of ‘Doyler, Doyler’ from the crowd were very encouraging.

The interestingly named, DoorWhore$FC was made up mostly of the female door staff from Belfast bar/club, The Stiff Kitten (Alice, Clare, Jenna, Lily & Bronagh), with a few of our DJ friends (special thanks to our star player, Dom, plus Rigsy & Anto), Roccer snapper, Luke Joyce and me (The Groupie) thrown in for good measure.

Despite only meeting a few of my team mates for the first time on the morning of the tournament, we instantly gelled, bonding whilst painting whiskers on our faces – an intimidation technique designed to put the boys off their game.

All the Lad-ees

It’s safe to say ‘the girls’ team’ attracted a lot of attention – drawing the most spectators to watch our matches, inciting collective cheering when passes went our way and boos when they didn’t.

It turns out I suffer from selective feminism. I’m all for women’s rights; sexual equality; equal pay etc. Put me on a football pitch with a bunch of girls facing a group of burly boys however, and I will revert to high-pitched pleas for leniency and for the ref to look the other way while we bend the rules.

Still, no one was hurt (aside from my bashed nose & our inadequately warmed up muscles); a hell of a lot of fun was had and, most importantly, our team spirit saw us through.

DoorWhore$FC in action

Team huddle.

In the end, DoorWhore$ FC scored two goals in four matches, which, surprisingly was more than some. I even managed to save three goals – including the one that rebounded off my face. Thanks must also go to the infinitely more talented goalie, whose name I didn’t catch, that stepped in to help us out for a few matches – it was great to get a run out around the pitch for the last few games.  I was chuffed to be awarded the trophy for ‘Roccer 2012 The Maverick’ – mainly props for getting hit in the face but also for entering into the spirit of the competition.

Getting my Roccer 2012 ‘The Maverick’ trophy from Miya McClean – Roccer’s friendly and very funny mascot!

Best of all, Roccer raised over £4,000 for the Marie Curie Cancer Care – a massive achievement. Congratulations to Rigsy, Alice Woods and all involved in organising such a brilliant day. I have a feeling DoorWhore$FC may make a return in 2013, though perhaps we might practice kicking a ball about before then…

One thing’s for sure, as Euro 2012 gets into full swing, I’ve a newfound respect for footballers and ‘The Beautiful Game.’

For more info on Roccer, and if you’d like to make a donation to support their fundraising efforts for Marie Curie, click here.

Special thanks also to Luke Joyce for capturing these photos of us in action. To see more of his work, head over here.

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