Two courageous teachers at a Dungannon school have cycled the length of Ireland to pay for a new playground.
Principal Seamus McCreesh and his colleague James Grimley from Roan St Patrick’s Primary School raised £13,000 with the help of sponsors, including their main supporter No.21 Helena’s Hair Salon Omagh.
The dynamic duo cycled for three days covering 400 miles from Mizen Head in Cork to Malin Head in Donegal. They were joined by four other local cyclists from construction companies McAleer and Rushe and Oakleaf Contracts.
Mr McCreesh said the new play area was ‘another classroom’ for the children, who have had to cope with overcrowded classrooms due to the school’s growing popularity.
The Eglish school has been forced to teach children in a makeshift mobile classroom as well as a dining room after its enrolment swelled by more than 50 percent from 83 pupils to 126.
Unfortunately, the school has been refused a building extension by the Department of Education.
“The play area was well worth the effort put in by everyone”, said Mr McCreesh. “It has a stage for drama lessons, and a built-in sand and water area, as well as climbing frames.
“Our P1 and P2 classes are able to use the area for structured play, which will ease the pressure on existing classrooms.”
During the cycle, Mr McCreesh and his cycling team had to cope with strong headwinds and driving rain.
“The first day of cycling was great”, he said. “We racked up over a hundred miles and had a great tail wind to help us on our way. However, we struggled on day two through the middle of Ireland. It really was dire with the wind and the rain. We found ourselves in the Bog of Allen, wondering were we mad to keep going.
“But we persevered and at the end there was a great welcoming party made up of parents and friends to celebrate our arrival at Mizen Head.”
“With the support of our main sponsor No.21 Helena’s Hair Salon Omagh, local businesses, parents and students over £13000 has been raised”, said Mr McCreesh.
“A special cycling jersey was designed for the cycle containing all the names of the various sponsors.”
The play area was officially opened on Thursday, with sponsors, school governors and parents in attendance.
“The whole school community wishes to thank all those who supported the cycle and helped raised the funds”, said Mr McCreesh.