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First year students at Ulster University’s Business School at Magee are calling on people to turn their COVID-19 blues into community action and to help raise much needed funds for Foyle Search and Rescue, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, Foyle Hospice and Pink Ladies Cancer Charity.

These future business leaders have joined forces with well-known lecturer, Dr. Éamonn Ó Ciardha to devise Éamonn’s Charity Chop which will see Éamonn shed his signature long locks on 9 March 2021.

While COVID-19 has presented huge challenges around fundraising in 2021, especially for charities, the students did not let that stop them.

“I haven’t cut my hair since I was 17 and that is a few years ago now!  I made a pledge to my mother that I would get my hair cut for her 81st birthday which takes place on the 9th of March.

It has been great working with the students who came up with the idea for ‘Éamonn’s Charity Chop’.

Together, in this very difficult year, we are hoping to raise much needed funds, which will be split equally between four great Derry charities,” said Dr. Éamonn Ó Ciardha, Ulster University.

Magee students have successfully raised over £88,000 for local charities over the last seven years.

As part of their induction, students are introduced to the work of The Science Shop which is a resource for the community and voluntary sector across Northern Ireland which identifies students from a relevant subject discipline to do a charity project as part of their University coursework.

The students form teams to come up with creative and novel fundraising ideas.

Over the years, students have organised highly successful poker nights, variety shows and online raffles, participated in sponsored walks, produced charity calendars, a fashion show and fireside quizzes, and persuaded family, friends, work colleagues and a range of local organisations and businesses to become part of their fundraising efforts.

“Our engagement with Ulster University over the last seven years has had an immensely positive impact on our children and young people with Down syndrome.

The generous and practical support of the students have provided in raising additional funds has enabled us to meet the sensory, educational and social and personal development needs of our children and young people with Down syndrome aged 0-30,” said  Christopher Cooper, Manager of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust.

Describing the importance of working with Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, first year student Saffron Mulholland highlights:

“My involvement within the charity taught me the importance of having and building a supportive community for young children and adults with Down syndrome.

I learnt the different activities that take place at the centre to allow them to gain skills and opportunities such as music therapy.

We are appealing for to the public to support our charities through Éamonn’s Charity Chop at this difficult time and together we can show our strength of community and raise much needed funds for our valued charity partners.”