Local Newry broadcaster, journalist and lover of life, Rowan Hand has after many many years in the making released a book!

"Caritas Et Amor … in the footsteps of love" a beautifully bound book with well over 400 pages contains many stories from his trips to Africa and India wonderfully coloured with his very own beautiful and inspiring photographs.

Rowan has spent a lifetime working in Media both RTE and the BBC as well as locally.

Rowan Hand with his book Caritas Et Amor - in the footsteps of love. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Rowan Hand with his book Caritas Et Amor - in the footsteps of love. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Growing up in Mary Street in Newry certainly set the tone of future interests surrounded as he was by neighbours that worked either at sea or at Newry dock, the Albert Basin.

Rowan's first experience of Africa was a trip to Cameroon as an 18 year old when he joined the Navy. This instilled a love for the country which continues till this day. Many subsequent visits to Africa and India followed on various missions where seeing what was needed inspired him to take on many different projects over the years.

The book simply shows how one person can make a difference to the lives of so many others by simply getting up and doing something. From individuals in the SMA fathers on their pastoral journey around the world to Rowan himself, the book illustrates so well how much can be done if you just put your mind to it and have the stubbornness to never give up.

Work by the Society of African Missions is core to the narrative of the book with Rowan detailing the personalities and the projects behind the organisation that's centred locally for many years at Dromantine College.

Rowan Hand aboard Johanna Lucretia on Newry Ship Canal in 2009. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Rowan Hand aboard Johanna Lucretia on Newry Ship Canal in 2009. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Rowan talks of past Newry influences around the world, from Archbishop Francis Carroll, son of Newry docker Paddy Carroll who became the Papal Nuncio to Liberia, to Fr Benny Sands from Mayobridge who died in Nigeria at the young age of 33. The book explains the connections and the person while sharing in some of their journey.

Projects that Rowan worked on with the help of donations from the good people of this area are documented including the construction of St Mary's Primary and Secondary School's in Nigeria. So much achieved and so much more to achieve.

Perhaps the most uplifting chapter of all details the story of Tony from India. Tony was born with no arms and just one leg but continues to keep the positive side of life burning brightly for all to see. As Tony says “I can do anything - It just takes me longer!” From the difficulties of obtaining a passport to him obtaining an overseas college place, so much that should have been "impossible" has been achieved. Of course the generosity of Newry people helped him greatly along the way, thanks to Rowan's interest in his story. Tony at present lives in England with his carer Maureen and has got full citizenship. He visited Newry in 2012.

Incredibly the printing and compilation of  the book was funded entirely by Rowan himself, via many generous friends, businesses and supporters and as he proudly points out every single penny of the money spent buying the books will go to his African and Indian projects.

The book can be bought in Newry at Elysium Wellness Centre, Merchants Quay.