Most of us can remember a favourite teacher who made a difference in our lives but, perhaps, never took the opportunity to thank them for their hard work and dedication.
But one local school will next week say thanks to an inspirational teacher by cheering her on as she carries the Olympic Torch through the city as part of the London 2012 Olympic Relay.
Deborah McElhinney was nominated to carry the torch in recognition of her dedicated work at Broadbridge Primary School where she puts so much of her free time into extra-curricular activities for the children.
Deborah is one of 24 local people nominated by their peers for the honour of carrying the torch through the streets as part of the event. And no doubt she will have the whole of Eglinton behind her as she completes her leg of the relay on Bank Holiday Monday.
“My colleague Jack Logue sent in the nomination to the Olympic Committee, so I’m taking this opportunity to name and shame him now,” she said ahead of the big day. “I must say I was delighted to be nominated, but I can only accept this honour on behalf of the many staff at Broadbridge.
“The teachers here all devote their time and energy to the many after-hours activities that the school offers, including Gaelic, soccer, running, netball – there are so many things happening here. All the teachers give up their time, so I don’t really see this as a personal achievement - it’s something we are all devoted to doing for the children.
“And it’s very timely as the school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so it ties in well with all our celebrations. It’s a great way to showcase the school.”
As coach of the school’s athletics and cross-country teams, Deborah is emphatic in her enthusiasm for getting children up and running. “Sport and running in particular is a fantastic discipline to have and something that brings benefits to all aspects of your life, not just the running track,” she stresses.
“It really is an enjoyable sport and anyone can do it, you don’t need to spend any money or buy any equipment - all you need is a pair of trainers. And it teaches children great discipline, it’s something they can bring into all aspects of their lives, and other sports they are involved in. Anything that tears children away from their X-boxes and out into the fresh air should be encouraged.”
With thousands expected to turn out for Monday’s relay, which winds its way through the city before finally reaching the St Columb’s Park Stadium, naturally a few nerves are to be expected.
“It is a brilliant privilege to be nominated, although I was a bit nervous to begin with,” Deborah admits. “But I’m really starting to look forward to it now as the day approaches, and my family are all so proud that I’m involved. All the students are so excited as well and I’m sure there will be a great turnout on the day – it will be a great day out for everyone.”
Throughout the Big Flame Weekend an exciting programme of events will take place in the city to get people in the mood for the Olympic Games which kick off at the end of July. St Columb’s Park will host a series of outdoor events, with a special family funday to mark the opening of the new greenway on Saturday and a series of sports taster sessions on Sunday. Tickets for the free evening celebration event at St Columb’s Park can be obtained by contacting the Millennium Forum Box Office. And the spectacular Carnivale of Colours will also run for three days at the park. To find out more go to the website on wwww.derrycity.gov.uk/BigFlameFestival.