Belfast Telegraph

Former Wrightbus worker thanks public after outpouring of support following job loss

Jim McMaster who has lost his job at Wrightbus after 27 years
Jim McMaster who has lost his job at Wrightbus after 27 years
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A former Wrightbus worker says he is feeling much more positive about his future following a huge outpouring of public support.

Jim McMaster (46) from Craigavon was among the 1,200 workforce at the Ballymena bus making firm which collapsed last week.

He had worked for the company for 27 years, beginning as an apprentice coach builder and working his way up to a technical documentation specialist.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week, Jim said he felt as though he had “failed” his daughter Rachel as the loss of his job meant he could no longer afford to fund her dream of becoming a world-class gymnast.

Rachel (13) hopes to one day compete in the Olympics and recently qualified for two major competitions in England.

In the last few months Jim has paid out over £1,000 for Rachel’s gymnastics insurance, membership, competitions and fuel to take her to Salto Gymnastics Club in Lisburn.

But facing the prospect of financial turmoil after the sudden loss of his job, Jim was devastated to no longer have the funds to support his daughter’s dream or even buy her a birthday present next month.

In the wake of Jim’s plea, a number of people have come forward to offer their assistance to both help him secure a new job and keep Rachel’s dream alive.

As he faces a six week wait for his redundancy payments, one Ballymena woman has offered to assist Jim by helping him to write a CV free of charge as he applies for new jobs.

Meanwhile, another man has suggested setting up a Just Giving fundraising page for Rachel and will be meeting with Jim to discuss a number of potential sponsorship options.

Jim is also bolstered by the turnaround in fortunes at closure-threatened Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff and hopes that a similar positive outcome could be on the cards for Wrightbus.

“Everyone thought that there was no chance that Harland and Wolff could be saved so you just never know,” Jim said.

“We are told that four bidders are interested in Wrightbus so I’m hopeful that there is a good chance of it being rescued.

“I feel so much better than I did earlier this week knowing that there are good people out there willing to help me and give up their free time.

“I was just taken aback and amazed by the kindness of strangers and it really does make the world seem like a better place.

“Whenever I get back on my feet I want to try and help other people in a similar situation.”

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