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Jim Warny documentary wins Gold for Clare FM at New York Festivals Radio Awards

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*Padraic Flaherty & Gavin Grace. 

Clare FM has won Gold at the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Awards for a documentary on Jim Warny.

Recognised as one of the best radio programmes in the world over the past year, The Rescue produced by Padraic Flaherty and Gavin Grace provided an insight into the unique operation extracting twelve boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex in Thailand. Ennis’ Jim Warny was one of the cave divers from around the world who assisted in their safe recovery.

Warny was the focus of the documentary with 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.

On Tuesday night in Manhattan, The Rescue received a Gold Award at the New York Festivals Radio Awards. Hundreds of entries from radio stations in almost 40 countries were submitted for the awards, the Gold is among the highest accolades to be received in radio.

Head of Operations with Clare FM, Padraic Flaherty told The Clare Echo the success was “one of the biggest” in the station’s 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.”

Presenter of Morning Focus, Gavin Grace paid tribute to Jim Warny upon accepting the accolade. “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.”

Last year, the station was given a Bronze Award for ‘Top of the World’, a documentary on John Burke becoming the first Clare man to climb Mount Everest. In 2014, John Cooke, now a reporter for RTÉ was honoured for ‘Life and Death on the Streets’ which told the story of Josef Pavelka, a homeless Czech national who lived on the streets of Ennis and was found dead in a public toilet in May 2013. Gold was also won in 2008 in the ongoing news story category.

RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk and RTÉ Lyric FM were among the other Irish Gold winners.

In September, Clare FM will celebrate thirty years on air. The Rescue will be repeated on Clare FM on Bank Holiday Monday, August 5th, after the Main Lunchtime News at 1pm.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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