Having a good teacher is like finding the golden ticket. If you discover one, you should absolutely cherish them. Sometimes, however, that decision is taken away from you.
This was the case for the English students of Drumragh College when their teacher Graham Peters passed away after a short battle with cancer in 2017. Amidst all the sadness, one student was inspired to make a real difference and keep the memory of Mr Peters alive.
Jamie Harkins has created “Pockets of Positivity”, a calendar with an inspirational quote for each day, something he learnt from his former English teacher.
“His classroom walls were totally adorned with quotes from Toy Story, Roald Dahl and everything in between," Jamie said. "Any time anyone found a quote that they thought he would like, they would bring it to him and he would put it up on his wall. He would always find a space somewhere to put it.”
“So rather than create something sad, or in memoriam-like, I thought we would celebrate his life in the way he would like to be remembered, and I thought the best way to do that would be through a calendar of positive quotes. So Pockets of Positivity was born and now I have sold over 2000 copies, they have reached as far as Australia, LA, New York, New Zealand, they’re basically in a lot of countries.
“People can relate to the quotes and every day I come on to my social media and there are five to 100 people who’ve put their quote up on their Instagram story, Facebook and Twitter. It’s kind of like a ripple effect and this pursuit of positivity, rippling through, I think that’s a really, really, important thing.
“The amount of people that have come to me and said, ‘this has had such an impact on me, I needed this right now.’ Or I get a number of cancer patients or terminally ill patients contacting me and they’ll say, ‘this is one of the only things keeping me going right now, this is having such an impact on me’ and that absolutely warms my heart to know that something you’ve created has had such an impact on people.
"Whenever you start to receive these messages from 90-year-old people, in care homes, terminally ill, it’s a real big eye opener, and it really makes you thankful that we’re here today and we’re living.”
Proceeds from the sales of the calendar have been going to a local cancer charity where Jamie works. But now, given the Coronavirus pandemic, he has found another way to help those who are involved or have been affected by the illness.
“It is really scary and traumatising that so many of our loved ones are not going to walk away from this, and so in light of that, I have created the #NHSHeroes campaign, where I’m sending out a calendar to any frontline NHS worker who would like one.
"Anyone who’s struggling or putting their life on their line for us at the moment, because I think we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for what they do. If a Pockets of Positivity calendar is one thing that can make them smile at this very scary time, then that’s the least I can do and I think it’s something that Mr Peters would be proud of me for doing.”
Calendars can be purchased from the Drumragh College website (www.drumraghcollege.co.uk) and by contacting Jamie on Twitter @Jamieharkin01