Pupils at Edenderry Primary have raised more than £4,000 for Cancer Research UK in memory of former PTA chairperson Mechelle Harshaw.
Mechelle, who served as chairperson of the Friends of Edenderry for three years, passed away on September 4 this year after a battle with cancer. She was 44 years old.
In the months before her death, the married mother-of-three had organised a number of fundraisers for good causes, including the school’s ‘Race For Life’ in support of Cancer Research UK.
Sadly Mechelle didn’t live long enough to see staff and pupils take part in the event on October 13. But the combination of her organisation, their walking and running efforts and people’s generous donations raised the fantastic total of £4,087 for the charity.
“It was a really good way of people remembering her by making a really big effort. There’s only just over 400 children in this school and they managed to raise more than £4,000 for Race For Life which is pretty amazing really,” said PTA vice chair Johnny Breen.
Mechelle, who worked in St Mary’s Primary School as a classroom assistant for around 20 years, had previously helped organise a Night at The Races event in The Imperial, which raised £3,500 for the Mandeville Unit at Craigavon Area Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment at the time, and the Pretty ‘n’ Pink breast cancer charity.
Edenderry Primary School is continuing to follow the popular Banbridge woman’s example by organising more fundraisers in support of worthy causes.
The Lurgan Road school is now raising money for the Cancer Fund for Children’s Daisy Lodge facility in Newcastle, where Mechelle and her family - husband David and children Alannah, Alyssa and Bradley - enjoyed some respite over the summer.
“Instead of pupils getting Christmas presents for the teachers and teaching assistants, they’re asking that donations are made to Daisy Lodge,” Johnny continued. “We’ll also be gathering up money for that through a retiring collection at our nativity play closer to Christmas.”
Funds will also be raised through a cross-community talent night in conjunction with St Mary’s, which is scheduled to take place in The Belmont Hotel next May. The event will see pupils and teachers from both schools taking to the stage in a ‘lip sync battle’.
“Mechelle was a very humble person who had very little to be humble about. She was great fun, a great laugh, but she was always doing things for other people,” Johnny continued.
“Since the start of September we have put a big effort into quite a lot of events and we have raised a lot of money. A lot of people have been very supportive of us because they know Mechelle has passed away. We have really seen the high regard she was held in. We are gathering up more this year than we ever would have done before. People have been brilliant and supported us really well.
“The parents and the guardians, the pupils and the staff here in school have all been absolutely fantastic and I know Mechelle’s family really appreciate it,” he added.
Keen to remember their friend and the dedicated service she gave to Edenderry Primary over many years, the school is also planning to present a special prize or medal named in Mechelle’s memory at the end of the school year.