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Today the 25th of April at 1:30 p.m.was when the entire St.Columba’s College community were to join Old Columban and extreme runner Alex Panayotu in stages of her 24 hour ‘Run till the Sun’ around the college grounds in aid of Purple House Cancer Centre.

The entire College community: comprising pupils, staff, parents, Old Columbans, friends of the college Come together to give something back to a very worthy charitable cause. The reason why this is not happening as I write is very clear.

The world will come out on the right side of this current global pandemic. So the ‘Run til the Sun’ is only postponed. It will be nice to have something to look forward to when we will eventually be allowed to get together.

As a cancer survivor, Alex has been in isolation in the northern suburbs of Athens for over six weeks with only her faithful dog Robyn for company. Alex tells me she is doing at least two hours of running and walking every day on Mount Penteli training and preparing for when her ‘Run til the Sun’ endurance challenge will happen. She also said ‘Liam you have no idea how much I am looking forward to seeing and running with all the pupils and supporters of ‘Run til the Sun’.

I am delighted to say that in a time which is a disturbing and challenging one for so many that I can give you some good news. Purple House has finally secured a permanent home after thirty years. The HSE approved a prioritised capital application for funds towards the purchase of its new permanent premises on Duncairn Terrace in Bray. This was announced in the midst of the current crisis it will give hope to the thousands who use its services every year. The ‘Run to the Sun’ committee delighted for Conor O’Leary and Stephanie Murphy, their dedicated team and all the charity’s volunteers. Although the doors of Purple House are closed their hearts are open and hampers and support are being provided for cancer patients who are isolating.

Purple House will need to launch fundraising when the crisis is over as they will need support to fund their move. The St.Columba’s ‘Run til the Sun committee’ are looking forward to giving them as much support as our community can muster.

The College is delighted to announce details of a fantastic charitable event taking place this April – Run til the Sun! On Saturday, April 25th, Old Columban Alex Panayotou – an accomplished long-distance runner – will challenge herself to run for 24 hours around the College campus. She is looking for your support along the way – both financial and physical – to complete this mammoth challenge.

The event is being organised by a committee of pupils, who have decided that all proceeds from the event should go to Purple House Cancer Support – a fantastic charitable organisation based in Bray that provide hands-on practical support for children and teenagers with cancer. They have set up a fundraising page here where all donations, large and small, will be gratefully received.

You will soon be able to sign up to join Alex on a leg of her journey; perhaps you’re willing to run for a half-hour, 10 kilometres or even something more ambitious? You can run in the morning, afternoon, evening or even at night time – with the course illuminated along the way. The event will culminate with a celebratory barbeque at the Cricket Pavillion on Sunday evening.

The pupils have created a dedicated page for the event here and a donations page here. They have a fundraising target of €8000, which would be transformational for Purple House, as the vast majority of their funding is through donations. We were delighted to welcome Purple House to the College Chapel last Monday to hear about the work they did and some of the organising committee visited their facility in Bray a few weeks ago. Alex is a cancer survivor, another reason why the charity resonated with the pupils.

So please do get involved, donate to the cause, sponsor a runner or run a leg of the journey yourself. We would love the whole community to get involved – pupils, staff, parents, Old Columbans, friends of the College and even local primary schools.

Team Hope’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal is a wonderful charity that provides shoeboxes full of toys, treats, school stationery, hygiene products and clothing for some of the poorest children in the world. The College has been involved with this amazing charity for over 15 years and this year, once again, the Transition Year pupils have been actively involved. Pupils have already created over 200 festively wrapped filled boxes to date and have also fundraised through their mini-companies. They have also visited the Team Hope warehouse over the past few weeks packing the filled boxes into the lorries destined for Eastern Europe and Africa. A particular thank you to Mr Cron who has been driving the College’s involvement in the charity from day one, and to the other staff who accompanied the pupils to the warehouse in the evenings. Team Hope is once again the Gywnn House charity in 2019/2020.

The pastoral care team (called Cúram, the Irish for “care”) has organized a busy schedule of activities for our annual Bullying Awareness Week. Our theme is “small change, big difference”.

These include:

  • Workshops for Forms IV and VI with Stuart Wilson (from ZestLife) on the themes of “small change, big difference” and “leadership” on Monday.
  • A talk for Forms I and II from Monica Rowe from Key Conversations on developing the skills to cope with change, friendships and to develop a strong self-image on Tuesday.
  • A workshop called Hero Starts With Her for the girls in Forms I, II and IV which aims to raise awareness of the negative effects of female bullying on Wednesday.
  • A visit to the Gaiety Theatre on Wednesday for Form V to see the play Asking for It. (They will return to the College at 11:00 p.m.)
  • Teacher/pupil workshops for all on issues such as how we all have a responsibility to address bullying and how to report bullying behaviour on Thursday.
  • A workshop for Forms IV and V from Shout Out on Friday. This will address the issue of homophobic bullying. The Department of Education and Skills requires schools to focus on developing pupils’ awareness of bullying and asks that they deal explicitly with the issue of homophobic bullying.
  • A film evening for Forms I and II on Thursday (6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.).
  • A documentary and discussion for Forms III and IV on Friday (6:45 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.).
  • An art project involving the whole school.
  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) classes on the themes of friendship and bullying.
  • The theme of “small change, big difference” in Chapel.
  • A display of books in the Library on the theme of bullying and how to handle it.

We hope that day pupils will be able to join their classmates for evening activities. Please feel free to contact the College if you have any queries or if you wish to withdraw your child from any of the activities above.

Yesterday, Form VI pupils from Stackallan House, accompanied by Liam Canning (Housemaster) and Michael O’Shaughnessy (Assistant Housemaster), visited their chosen charity, the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice. The pupils and staff formally presented their charity with a new 55′ television, purchased with the funds raised over the course of the year, provided for Hazel House’s newly designed play and sensory room.  Laura Lynn is a wonderful organisation, whose vision is that ‘all children who need us can access us’, provides holistic palliative care and support for children with life-limiting conditions and their families.

The members of Stackallan wanted to donate something practical and tangible rather than a cheque. They raised the money by hosting a variety show, self imposing a pizza tax, a chapel appeal collection and House fines. The television is used to play soothing sensory music during the day and for special cinema nights and sporting occasions.

Over the last 20 years the College has proudly supported the Christmas Shoebox Appeal run by Team HopeTwo years ago we sent a record 260 gift filled wrapped shoeboxes to needy children in remote parts of Africa and war torn parts of Eastern Europe. These boxes were donated by pupils, staff & parents or were put together from fillers that were either donated or were purchased by proceeds from TY mini companies or the Tuck shop. Last year the figure was significantly lower and we would love to return to the heights of 2017. 

The deadline for receipt of filled shoeboxes is after the half term break and it would be fantastic if pupils, parents, staff or indeed friends of the College would take the time over half term to make up a box.

If you want to make up a box wrap a shoebox (base & lid separate) in Christmas wrapping paper. Choose whether you want to make a box for a boy or girl and decide on the age category 2-4; 5-9; or 10-14. What goes in a box? Just follow the 4W rule!


If you are not able to wrap a box then please place all of the items in a bag and we will provide a wrapped box for you. If you have a lot of items lying around your home that you no longer use, and they are in good condition, then please bring them back to school and place them in the plastic crates in Gwynn. It costs €4 per box for transportation – please place the money in an envelope and place it in the box.