Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson has left pupils at a Co Antrim primary school “honoured and chuffed” after he sent a special message of encouragement to its kind-hearted children.
The Ballymena-born actor with a passion for helping the homeless awarded Portrush Primary School pupils a personal ‘Oscar’ after hearing how they had staged two fundraising Christmas concerts for the Simon Community.
The school’s ‘Home for Christmas’ concerts raised £950 and a selection of gifts for homeless people in Northern Ireland were also donated through the Simon Community’s Coleraine facility.
Neeson, who was tracked down by teacher Karen Maguire, encouraged the pupils in a personal message: “How terrific you are helping your local Simon Community through those school shows.
“Homelessness is a tragedy and many people find themselves on the streets for various reasons.
“By highlighting their plight you and your wonderful children are helping to restore their dignity and self-worth, no matter how small that gesture may be.
“Many congratulations and I hope you carry on this Christmas tradition. You and your primary school definitely get the ‘Oscar’ from me!”
Ms Maguire said she was “just blown away” by his email.
“We were absolutely thrilled and honoured for someone of that calibre and talent and social awareness to reply to Portrush Primary School,” she said.
“We are extremely proud to be associated with someone of such talent and skill who hasn’t forgotten his roots and still has a passion to help people on the street and for children in the local arts.
“We are just honoured and chuffed. It’s lovely to get the approval of someone in the public eye, but it’s all about the children really, and once upon a time he was just a little boy too.”
Ms Maguire, also the school’s arts and charities coordinator, contacted Liam through his agent.
She had written: “As a former local boy now doing amazing things in the world of the arts and film, it could be a wonderful inspiration for our children to receive a word of endorsement, encouragement or support for their efforts. So Liam, through your agent could I beg for a wee email, text message or voicemail for the talented and caring 200 young pupils of Portrush Primary School?
“I know this is a huge shot in the dark but I believe myself in reaching for the stars.”
The school posted a message on its website after Neeson’s email, congratulating pupils: “How awesome and inspiring is that for a little Portrush Primary School. Merry Christmas everyone — together we can make a difference.”
I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to send you this message before your school’s two performances, which, I believe, finished last night (December 17). I do hope they went more than well and that your primary school children performed with energy and excitement and that your audiences were appreciative. How terrific you are helping your local Simon Community through those school shows. Homelessness is a tragedy and many people find themselves on the streets for various reasons. The real tragedy is that most times we walk past these people as if they didn’t exist and generally don’t give them a
moment’s thought. By highlighting their plight, you and your wonderful children are helping to restore their dignity and self worth, no matter how small that gesture may be. Many congratulations and I hope you carry on this
Christmas tradition every year.
Thank-you for reaching out and sharing. You and your primary school definitely get the ‘Oscar’ from me!
Happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
Warmest regards, Liam Neeson