Meath River Rescue on patrol on the River Boyne.

Field kitchen plan for brave river rescue volunteers

Slane and District Men's Shed have taken on a major new project - to build a field kitchen for Meath River Rescue.

Spurred on by the heartbreak of recent tragedies, which saw volunteers from Meath River Rescue out in all weathers searching the Boyne, members of Slane Men's Shed decided to do something to make things a little more comfortable for the volunteers.

Shed members were greatly impressed by the Trojan work of Meath River Rescue in searching for and recovering bodies in a number of recent tragedies and wanted to do something to help.

They came up with the idea of building a field kitchen, which will allow members make their own hot drinks and will have equipment to keep food warm and store food.

Kevin Macken, chairman of Slane and District Men's Shed said: "We had a tragedy in Slane during the summer and we saw the work Meath River Rescue were doing and spotted the need for something like a field kitchen. There was a need for some kind of facility to look after the people on the river. There was another tragedy in Navan over Christmas and they were out all day every day in dreadful weather. Meath River Rescue do great work in very difficult circumstances.

"When there is a search, people want to help and bring food to the volunteers. Last summer, I saw a number of women going down to the searchers with tea in flasks."

Kevin who has a background in hospitality as former owner of the Conyngham Arms hotel thought: "There has to be a better way."

"It wasn't long before the members of the Shed came up with impressive plans for a field kitchen, which will be donated to Meath River Rescue when complete.

"They started fundraising. Meath River Rescue is a very easy charity to raise funds for. They have so much support. We are nearly three quarters of the way there," he said.

The first major step in the project was to fix the chassis on the axle of the vehicle, a task completed over the weekend.

"We have plenty of willing and able members now, including plumbers, electricians, carpenters and metalworkers, who will all be involved," he said.

The kitchen, which will be towed to wherever it is needed, will have a hot water boiler and some place where the volunteers can go and make themselves a cup of tea or coffee.

"It will be something like you see in a local supermarket where you can get your own hot drinks.

"When there is a search, people come with pots of soup and stew for the volunteers and the kitchen will have the means to keep that food warm."

The kitchen will also be rigged with floodlights and a gazebo to provide shelter along with a table. There will be a display area for food like sandwiches, as well as a large fridge.

"It will be very well equipped and we will be doing all the work ourselves."

Christy Rennicks of Meath River Rescue said he had heard that the Slane Men's Shed group were building a field kitchen for them.

"We are delighted. It will be a great job when we are searching the river. It will be great to be able to get our own tea and coffee and to keep food warm. Hot food and drinks are always welcome. We are delighted they thought of doing this. It will be greatly appreciated."

Slane and District Men’s Shed opened its purpose built premises in September 2019. The shed is well equipped for a wide range of activities -woodwork, art, gym, cooking, computers, games, pool, bowls and more recently a metalwork shop was added.