Students from Royal and Prior School Donegal standing in front of helicopter with Catain Paraic Slattery

Pictured L-R: Captain Paraic Slattery and students Jennifer Holly, Shakirat Olayode, Migha Saji, and David Roulston

The students from Royal and Prior School, Raphoe, Co Donegal won the prize as part of The Pitch – The Schools Advertising Challenge

Saving lives at sea, on inland waterways, up mountains and in caves; providing search and rescue response and counter-pollution measures to maritime accidents, and monitoring vessel traffic are all in a day’s work for the staff of the Irish Coast Guard, and a group of students from Donegal got a glimpse into that work during a trip to the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter base in Sligo this week.

Student shown the inside of helicopter and it's controls

The fifth-year students from Royal and Prior School, Raphoe, Co Donegal were at the Sligo base as part of their prize for The Pitch – The Schools Advertising Challenge. The competition, organised by the Public Appointments Service via its website,, challenged post-primary students to create an advertisement pitching the public sector as an attractive career pathway to their fellow students. With prizes such as an opportunity to interview the Taoiseach; a trip to an Irish Coast Guard helicopter base, and the chance to participate in a policing simulation at An Garda Síochána up for grabs, more than 100 students from across the country stepped up to the challenge, with video submissions in Irish and in English. The Donegal students - Jennifer Holly, Migha Saji, David Roulston, and Shakirat Olayode – were the joint runners-up.

The students spent the day exploring the work of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter base in Sligo. Captain Paraic Slattery introduced them to the various areas covered by the Irish Coast Guard and demonstrated how the air medical website works, zoning in on the students’ school in Raphoe. He also talked about the various scenarios the crew might face on a rescue mission. The team also got the opportunity to explore the various instrumentation in the helicopter, to sit in the pilot’s seat, and to experience being hoisted in the rescue winch. The emergency siren rang during the students’ visit, so they also got to see the crew of Rescue 118 setting out on a mission.

Student David Roulston said: “When we came here, we got a tour around the base, and then we got a tour on the helicopter and then we got to see the helicopter actually get called out to a rescue, so that was quite an eventful day.”

Students being hoisted in the rescue winch

Divisional Controller at Malin Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre, Paul Gill said: “We were delighted to host students from Royal and Prior School, Raphoe at the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Base in Sligo and to give them an insight into the work of the Coast Guard, including the Coast Guard helicopter service. We offer a wide range of careers, including SAR Mission Coordinators in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, electronic engineering, and other careers in the civil service.

Students sitting in the pilots seat of the helicopter

“We would encourage anybody who is interested in a career in Search and Rescue, in protection of the marine environment or other aspects of maritime oversight to consider a career in the Irish Coast Guard and Department of Transport.”

Chief executive of the Public Appointments Service, Shirley Comerford said: “There is such a variety of exciting and rewarding careers on offer in the public sector in Ireland and it was wonderful to be able to showcase roles at the Irish Coast Guard to the students from the Royal and Prior School. I know a great day was had by all and I would like to thank the Irish Coast Guard for opening up its helicopter base to us as part of this competition.

“There are a variety of public sector jobs available on the website at the moment, in a range of industries and at locations across the country. These include roles suitable for school-leavers, graduates, career changers and the most senior of executives. I would encourage anyone considering their career options to take a look at what a career in the public sector could offer them.”

Check out the video below of the Irish Coast Guard prize day experience: