Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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Representatives who took part in Michaelís Big Stroll, an 18 mile walk for Meningitis Research NI, with Mrs Mary Clarke  - View Full Size Image
Representatives who took part in Michaelís Big Stroll, an 18 mile walk for Meningitis Research NI, with Mrs Mary Clarke

On the final Saturday before the Summer Holidays, a small but intrepid group represented Loreto College in an 18-mile walk from Coleraine to Ballycastle, to raise money for Meningitis Research NI. The walk was in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to meningitis, and those who have survived it. The group is campaigning to have the Vaccine B made more available, and a donation of £150 was made on behalf of Loreto College.

The walk held a particular significance for those at Loreto because it was carried out in memory of Michael Clarke. Michael was a student at Loreto from 1997-2003; his life was tragically cut short by meningitis during the summer just after his A level examinations. Michael is remembered with great fondness by his friends, former classmates and former teachers, and among the walkers in often inclement conditions on Saturday 22nd June were some of those who had known him at Loreto. Mrs Mary Clarke, Michaelís mother, was very touched that he was still so fondly remembered in his old school; it was emotional for all that the finishing point of the walk was the memorial bench for Michael at the Ballycastle seafront.

Loreto College was represented at the event by teachers Mrs Oonah McEwan, Mrs Lorraine McCool and Mr Paul Cunning, teaching assistant Miss Alex Brownlow, and Sr Rosemary Gallagher of the Loreto Community. Also taking part were former students from the class of 2003 Maeve Diamond and Aine Trolan, as well Mrs Mary Trolan, who remembered Michael fondly as one of her daughter Aineís friends. Year 11 student Christy Laverty represented the current Loreto student body at the event.

Although the walk was long and tiring and the weather was often bad, those who completed it commented that it had been a wonderful opportunity to remember their friend, and to laugh and smile at their memories of happy times with him. With fond memories of Michael Clarke in mind, Mr Michael James, Principal of Loreto College, paid tribute to all those who had given up a valuable Saturday at a busy time of year for this touching and highly worthwhile tribute.