Stoke City and Irish international footballer, James McClean, displayed his generous spirit yet again by donating money to a local school for children with additional needs.
James has donated £500 towards a fundraising campaign for gym equipment in Ardnashee School and College.
In fact, the Stoke City winger has a special connection to the school as his five-year-old nephew, AJ, is a pupil and he has friends whose children also attend the Derry school.
The donation arrives just weeks after James funded accommodation and food costs for a number of homeless people to stay in local hotels. The Creggan native has also made donations to a number of other charity causes in the past.
James’ sister, Mary Jane, presented the school with a cheque on his behalf earlier this week and it is thanks to her that he became aware of a fundraising drive for new gym equipment.
“Initially James wanted to donate money for a football kit, but the school recently got a new kit,” she explained. “I got in touch with the Parents Association and found out about the fundraising for the gym. I asked James for a donation and he was delighted, it was important for him to give something to the school.”
Clare McDaid, the chair of the PTA, said the school was extremely grateful to James for his donation.
“James is a credit to his family and to our city. He never forgets his roots and for that we are extremely grateful.
“A lot of the children in the school have sensory issues and in other gyms the noise alone would cause a melt down. A gym in our school would be heaven for our kids, they would be able to go somewhere quiet, being used by only a couple of people at a time.”
PE Teacher Eamon Colhoun has set a target of £3,000 to buy 15 pieces of equipment for the new gym.
“The idea is to bring the gym into the pupils’ comfort zone.
“We maybe getting a new school in a few years time but that isn’t good enough, I want it now for the kids who are here,” he said.
“The expectation is that having it in the school normalises going to the gym. The pupils will get comfortable using a gym and, hopefully, when they leave the school they will continue to go to the gym and get all the physical and mental health benefits from that.”
Peter Nixon, a parent who sits on the Board of Governors at Ardnashee said it was “a shame that we are dependent on the generosity of people like James and the public to fund a gym. It’s an absolute necessity, especially for physical and mental health.”