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Tyrone school boy raises £10,000 with calendar inspired by late teacher

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Jamie Harkin

Jamie Harkin

The late Graham Peters

The late Graham Peters

Jamie Harkin with Laura Mills, chairperson of charity Care for Cancer and Nigel Frith, the principal of Jamie’s school, Drumragh Integrated College

Jamie Harkin with Laura Mills, chairperson of charity Care for Cancer and Nigel Frith, the principal of Jamie’s school, Drumragh Integrated College

Jamie Harkin

The head boy of a Co Tyrone school who created a calendar in memory of a popular English teacher has raised £10,000 since it went on sale.

Omagh teenager Jamie Harkin, a pupil at Drumragh Integrated College, created 366 Pockets of Positivity, which is filled with inspirational quotes in tribute to Graham Peters, who passed away from cancer in 2017.

But after the story was published in the Belfast Telegraph in early December, demand for the desk calendar went through the roof and the 18-year-old was forced to go back to the production line to keep hundreds of customers happy.

Last night, Jamie told this newspaper he was "absolutely amazed and incredibly proud to have raised a whopping £10,000" for the Care for Cancer charity.

He said his late teacher's wife Karen had told him she was very proud of the "fitting legacy" he had left for her husband.

"It's a huge amount to be handing over and it shows you just how much can be achieved with hard work," he said.

"Everyone is over the moon and Mrs Peters told me she's proud of us and that I should be proud of myself.

"She also said her husband will be looking down on all of us with immense pride."

He added: "It was important to me to pay Mr Peters a fitting tribute and Mrs Peters said this was a great legacy."

Jamie said he was shocked by the runaway success of the desktop calendar, costing £10, which contains positive quotations - one for every single day - from Mr Peters and other inspirational sources.

The budding entrepreneur conceived the idea because he wanted to do something to honour Mr Peters, who loved words and had covered his classroom walls in quotes to reflect his passion for them.

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

Having turned his original concept into a calendar just weeks before Christmas, the prospective law student struck a chord with people here and beyond, with orders coming in from the Republic, Australia, South Korea, Austria, Los Angeles, New York, Spain and Italy.

"Myself and a few family members were packaging orders all night in the weeks running up to Christmas to keep up with the demand," Jamie said.

"It was a huge amount of work but the end result made this so worthwhile, and knowing there are 1,500 calendars out there hopefully making an impact on people's lives brings me great happiness."

After its initial publication in the Belfast Telegraph, the calendar story was highlighted on local radio and television and followed up by the Huffington Post and other media.

"Since the media coverage of the calendars the school has been inundated with messages of support," he said. "I received letters and notes in the post from strangers who had been personally touched by my story and were inspired by what I had done.

"Things like this from people you have never met make this so worthwhile.

"I never expected this kind of response but the impact the calendars have had on people has been truly heart-warming."

Jamie, who has a younger sister Jenna (14), said dad Ciaran (44) and mum Ciara (43), who run their own successful car export company, gave him great encouragement.

The young businessman, who spent three months "collating quotes and choosing the best ones" for the calendar, said he hoped people would find its daily message "uplifting and positive".

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

"It was one of his huge quotes, so we printed that inside the front cover as a reminder of him.

"I just hope that in some small way we've helped spread some of Mr Peters' positivity to others."

Drumragh principal Nigel Frith said the calendar "combines Jamie's heart for those who are hurting with his skill in developing an inspirational project that will touch lives and make a difference".

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