THE Irish father of a toddler, whose disappearance sparked an
international search last year, is now a radio presenter.
Aisling Symes (2) vanished in New Zealand last October, leading to a
worldwide appeal amid fears that she had been abducted -- however her
body was found seven days later in a drain.
Now her father Alan is back in the public eye after taking to the
airwaves to present a show about Ireland.
Mr Symes was training to work in radio when Aisling disappeared but
dropped the course for over a month during the painful period.
However, he managed to finish the studies, graduating in December with
"excellence in news-reading".
"To get that certificate was absolutely ... I had tears in my eyes," he
On Sunday Mr Symes took on his first presenting gig with Auckland
station, Planet FM, where he talked about Munster's win in the Heineken
Cup and played songs by the Clancy Brothers.
He was stand-in presenter on 'Images of Ireland', which is a popular
show on the community station.
Its recent guests included Health Minister Mary Harney during her 15-day
trip to New Zealand for St Patrick's Day.
said that his emotional radio debut was nerve-wracking but he is
determined to succeed in the business.
"I'll sweep floors, I'll make coffee if I have to," he said.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, he explained that it has taken some
time for his sense of humour to come back after losing Aisling.
However, he said that he tried to inject a few laughs into the programme
and not let his emotions carry through to the listeners.
During the show he talked about All Black Doug Howlett's contribution to
Munster's 33-19 win over Northampton in the Heineken Cup quarter-final
and mentioned developments at the Waterford Crystal Factory.
Mr Symes is also doing some production work with another radio station
in New Zealand and hopes to be back on Planet FM in the coming weeks.
The Symes received massive public support from Ireland last October when
Aisling disappeared from outside her late
She had been playing with her sister Caitlin at the time and police
feared that she may have been abducted.
The case drew international comparisons with that of British girl
McCann who vanished in Portugal in 2007.
However, after seven days of intensive searches, Aisling's body was
discovered in a stormwater drain a short distance the house.
The lives of Alan, his wife
Angela and their five-year-old daughter
were turned upside by the tragedy.
Shortly afterwards, Alan said that he felt a "horrible emptiness" and
Angela said: "There is a big part of me that has been ripped out."
An Irish tricolour was draped over Aisling's coffin at her funeral.
- Kevin Doyle