Extraordinary People

Boy celebrates teacher who died of cancer with incredible project

Jamie Harkin, 18, and his classmates were left shocked when their popular English teacher died of cancer in 2017.

A teenager has paid tribute to his late teacher by launching a campaign to celebrate the positive outlook he had on life. 

Jamie Harkin, 18, and his classmates were left devastated when popular English teacher Graham Peters died of cancer in 2017.

On a mission to honour him, the Drumragh College student has created an inspirational calendar called 366 Pockets of Positivity – which sees a quote attributed to each day.

Jamie’s uplifting memos include ‘try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud’; ‘work hard, dream big, never give up’; and ‘you’re not leaving until I see you smile’.

Having launched last December, Jamie, from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, initially printed 500 calendars.

However, due to huge demand – including sales in Australia and Spain – he was compelled to order more. He has since raised £10,000 for a local cancer charity.

Speaking about Mr Peters, Jamie told Uspire: “As I move on to the next chapter of my life to go to university, I felt it wouldn’t be right to move on without paying tribute to a man who was such a huge part of my life, who developed my love for the subject of English. 

“Mr Peters was a huge lover of quotes. His classroom walls were adorned with quotes from Disney, Toy Story, Roald Dahl and everything in-between. 

“If there was a new quote someone brought to Mr Peters or that he found himself he would always find room on one of the four walls somewhere. 

“I felt that Mr Peters positive influence on us all would be best reflected in a calendar, which has a quote – a positive thought – for every day. Your daily prescription of inspiration.”

Jamie continued: “I remember fondly in the first year of secondary school, Mr Peters stood at the front of the room with a few oranges and a bowl.

“Mr Peters used this orange analogy to teach us on his first lesson with us that just like you can squeeze all the juice out of an orange, he was going to get the very best out of us for the duration he taught us. 

“I thought this was magical. You could always hear him from the corridor before you could see him.

“He always had a story to share or something we’d all be interested in hearing. If at least one person smiles at a quote every day, then I have achieved my ultimate goal.” 

The school’s Principal, Nigel Frith, added: “Graham was one of those charismatic teachers, every child in the school was convinced they were his favourite. And as I pointed out to them, it was true, they were all his favourites.”

In light of these uncertain times with COVID-19, Jamie has now launched a sister campaign entitled NHS Heroes, in which he is sending his calendars to those on the frontline and anyone who needs a little positivity in their life during this tough outbreak. 

Click here to purchase your calendar. 

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