Ex-pats keep in tune with Rathfriland during festive period

Brian Appleton with his wife Lorna Stewart at their home in Saudi Arabia. The locals plan to retire to Rathfriland this year.
Brian Appleton with his wife Lorna Stewart at their home in Saudi Arabia. The locals plan to retire to Rathfriland this year.

RATHFRILAND ex-pats from as far away as Saudi Arabia, Australia and Canada were able to enjoy some voices from home over the festive period, thanks to community radio station Fuse FM.

The station enjoyed a two-week licence over Christmas and New Year and recorded listener figures of between 1,500 and 2,500 at any one time and this time around they went global with live online streaming.

Presenter and one of the main men behind the station, David Scott, said this has been one of their most successful stints yet, having drawn many ex-pats who were keen to keep in touch with those in their native Rathfrlland.

Mr Scott, who fronts the breakfast show when the station is up and running, said it was especially nice to be able to help families keep in touch at Christmas time.

“We had local people listening and there was a real buzz about the town I’ve been told,” he said. “And as well as that we had locals who have moved away from the area texting and emailing us to pass messages to their family and the community.

“One young man who moved to Australia two years ago was in contact with us all the time online, and another girl who lives in Canada emailed us regularly and said how much she enjoyed the shows.”

A local couple who live in Saudi Arabia said Fuse FM allowed them to spend Christmas together, even though they were thousands of miles apart.

Ex-pat Lorna Stewart returned to her native Rathfriland for the holidays but her husband Brian Appleton, a Senior Instructor and Training Advisor to the Royal Saudi Air Force Logistics and Training Wing Commanders, had to stay away for work.

During their time apart, Brian said he found a “wonderful companion” in Fuse FM.

“fUSe FM commenced on December 17 and I was tuned in at all times after work, here “at home”, 3,350 miles away, in Dhahran,” said Brian. “I know some of the presentors that were fronting the programmes and because I also knew a lot of the “folks from the hill” that reference was made to from time to time. I felt that I was back home amongst the “Hill folk” and all my friends back in Rathfriland.

“The presenters of fUSe FM interacted with me and always recognised that I was with them amd tuned in by their streaming technology. This made me feel at home with them all and a part of fUSeFM Rathfriland. They each in turn welcomed me to their programmes as they presented them.

“We owe a gratitude to David Scott (Scottie) who was the pivotal element in the fUSeFM Rathfriland’s very sucessful broadcast.”

Mr Appleton, who built a home in Rathfriland for ghimself and his wife back in 2005 and will retire there later this year, said he is hopeful that the station will be able to return to the airwaves soon.

“Our town of Rathfriland needs this “Community Service” to continue and in addition to the Christmas and New Year period it would be nice to get an Easter and/or summer fortnight with this wonderful radio show.

“My thanks to fUSeFM Rathfrialnd for being my companion over this past Christmas and New Year and my most sincere thank you goes to each and every one who had anything to do with the organisation, prepararion, helping and the presentation of the programmes. I also thank the many sponsors who helped greatly in the success of fUSe FM. Thanks also to all who gave prizes for the many quizzes that were conducted over the broardcasting period which involved the interaction of the people of our town.”