Today, we hear from PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI) Project Coordinator Darryl Petticrew one last time before he moves on to a post with Ulster Rugby. We are both sad and proud to see him go; he has served us so well in the past six years.
I’ve been with PPI-NI for almost six years now, and it’s been an amazing journey, one that I don’t believe will ever fully end. I first got involved with the organization while sitting at my desk, studying in Ardoyne. My phone began to ring, and I answered, hearing an American accent in response. I was confused but just went with it, and the guy on the other end of the phone rambled on about an organization called PeacePlayers International and how he would love for me to get involved. I decided to meet with this guy, who introduced himself as Sean Tuohey. Little did I know that this would be the start of a long journey with PPI-NI.
Sean and I decided to meet at a café called the Toasted Soda, now McCaufield’s, in Ardoyne, a place that we now take all our new fellows as a tradition. I arrived alone and was joined by five people, including Sean, Kelly Lyons (PPI-NI Managing Director at the time) and a few others. We began to talk about the programme, specifically the first twinning with Holy Cross Girls and Wheatfield Primary Schools. My ears perked up and from that moment on I was hooked.
My first event with PPI-NI was the twinning featured in the ESPY piece with the two schools. I remember the kids running into the gym, so excited to be doing something different and meeting kids that they might not have been able to before. The kids were smiling, the energy was amazing. Seeing the children from my neighborhood getting the opportunity to play sport together outside of all the off-court conflicts is something I will carry with me forever. At that moment, nothing could have wiped the smile of my face.
I remember thinking to myself “how can it get any better than this?” To this day I still have the same thought every single day. I constantly think, “this is actually my job, I’m doing something I love and it’s making a difference.” PPI-NI has been good to me over the past six years, I’ve made countless memories, and I have met people that will be a part of my life forever.
I am leaving the office to take up a new job, but I am most certainly not “leaving” the organization. I look forward to being on the other end of PPI-NI’s partnership with Ulster Rugby. And the mission, vision, and ethos of PPI-NI will be in my heart for the rest of my life.