Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland student's calendar of inspirational quotes pays tribute to late teacher

Jamie Harkin with the calendars. Pic Ulster Herald
Jamie Harkin with the calendars. Pic Ulster Herald
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

The head boy at a Co Tyrone school is selling special calendars for charity in memory of a popular English teacher who died from cancer.

Jamie Harkin, from Omagh, a pupil at Drumragh Integrated College, created 366 Pockets of Positivity in tribute to the late Graham Peters, who passed away in 2017 and "absolutely loved quotes."

That is why the 18-year-old made a desktop calendar filled with positive quotations - one for every single day - from Mr Peters as well as those from other sources such as inspirational speakers.

Jamie said: "Mr Peters was our English teacher for four years up to GCSE.

"He helped developed my love for English and he was a huge fan of quotes.

"His room was covered in quotes from Toy Story to Disney and everything in between.

"There was basically no more room on the walls they were so full of quotes, but if a new one came up he would find a place for it somewhere.

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"In class, if we ever needed inspiration or motivation, all we needed to do was turn to one of the four walls. Mr Peters would always point to one during the week, a sort of quote of the week idea, so that's where this idea came from."

During the head boy nomination speech, Jamie said he vowed that if he was appointed he would "like to do something to remember him".

"I didn't feel it would be right to move on to our next chapter without remembering someone who was such a huge part of our lives at the school," he said.

"And I thought the best way to do it was positively through a calendar or something similar and when I became head boy I decided to follow through on it."

After spending three months "collating quotes and choosing the best ones", Jamie pitched the idea to his former teacher's widow Karen, who loved the concept and his promise not to make it "sad or dark" but "uplifting and positive".

"Mr Peters always used to say, 'I'm not leaving until I see you smile'.

Teacher Graham Peters
Teacher Graham Peters

"It was one of his huge quotes so we've printed this inside the front cover of our calendar as a reminder of him," he said.

Initially, a limited quantity of 500 desktop calendars have been produced and are on sale for £10, with all the proceeds going towards Care for Cancer, where Jamie volunteers weekly.

"I have free periods on Friday afternoons so I go there and whenever you're in the office you really see how much it is helping local people," he said.

"When you give to a big national charity you don't really see where it's going, but I can see how it's having an impact locally and that's why I wanted to raise money for Care for Cancer."

Calendars began flying off the shelves following its official launch at the College Christmas Fair on November 29 and there has been a "fantastic response" from Omagh and beyond, leading to a postal delivery service being set up.

They can be now be purchased at Drumragh Integrated College School office, Omagh Integrated Primary School office, Care for Cancer, Campsie, Omagh, OmaTile, Dromore Road, Omagh, Claire's Hair Studio, Campsie and Omagh Benefit Makeup Counter, Tempest, Omagh.

Over half have been sold so far and, according to Jamie, if the demand is there, more will be produced.

Describing the calendar as "your daily dose of inspiration", A-level student Jamie, who hopes to study law at university, "in the end, after first doing something else", said it felt good to give something back to society. He added: "I think it's important to give back. Sometimes you can get lost in the whole education track and you need to step back and just do something to help - and that's all I wanted to do."

Although business acumen clearly runs in the family - dad Ciaran (44) and mum Ciara (43) run their own successful car export company - Jamie said his parents and younger sister Jenna (14) are proud of him.

He revealed that he launched his own confectionery company, Sweet Treats, when he was 12 - and "became ITV's official confectionery supplier for two years" - until 2016 "when I just closed it because of GCSEs".

Drumragh principal Nigel Frith said Jamie is "not only a bright young man but also a natural businessman". "He has a very entrepreneurial mind and a clear sense of what will work," he said.

"His calendar combines his heart for those who are hurting with his skill in developing an inspirational project that will touch lives and make a difference.

"For all of these reasons, we are very proud of him."

If you are interested in 366 Pockets of Positivity, call Drumragh Integrated College on 028 8225 2440.

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