Staff at the Loughgall food company of Gilfresh are praying that the body of their popular Polish line manager Jaroslav Andrykiewicz will be found after he was swept off the rocks at Portrush a fortnight ago.
Proprietor William Gilpin described Jaroslav, who lived in Moy, as “one of the best employees we have ever had”, adding, “He was a very hard worker, moving up swiftly from line operator to machinist to line manager. We just can’t believe this has happened.”
Jaroslav, who was 38 and the father of a teenage daughter, slipped off the rocks at Ramore Head in the North Antrim coastal resort, where he was on a fishing trip with three Polish friends. It happened on the afternoon of Saturday September 14, and one of the three men made a vain attempt to save him as he was swept away.
Despite tireless efforts by coastguards and the RNLI, there has been no sign of him since the accident.
His mother Irena travelled from their home town of Bydgoszcz and spent most of last week in Portrush and in Moy, where her Polish friends and the directors of Gilfresh cared for her.
Kinga Kopka, daughter of one of Jaroslav’s friends on the fishing trip, said, “It has been a very distressing time. Mrs Andykiewicz has returned to Poland, and we are in constant touch, keeping her up to date. We are hoping that Jaroslav’s body is found, and then his mother will return to Northern Ireland and arrangements will be made for him to be taken home for burial.”
William Gilpin said a special prayer event was held in the firm last Tuesday, conducted by the Rev Paul McAdam, Rector of St Luke’s Parish Church in Loughgall. “It was very moving,” he added. “Staff and workers are very upset by the loss of a good man and a highly respected employee. Mr McAdam did a lot of counselling and the hope is that Jaroslav’s body will be found.
“Jaroslav was a kind and popular young man and is sadly missed and deeply mourned. He enjoyed his fishing and was a keen football fan.”