Lollipop man with 'gift of the gab' takes on challenge of a lifetime with sponsored silence

Derry Lollipop Man John McGinley

Derry Lollipop Man John McGinley

A Derry lollipop man with the “gift of the gab” has accepted the challenge of a lifetime after vowing to stay silent for an entire week.
Rosemount Primary School said there was “great excitement” about the school as John McGinley, its lollipop man, has promised to keep quiet all week, except to perform his lollipop duties.
The challenge will take place from 8am-5pm Monday to Friday as part of a sponsored silence.
A fundraising event is organised every year by teacher Miss Aisling McMenamin and canteen worker Mrs Mary Murray for Macmillan Cancer Support and John decided that any money raised will go to the cancer charity.
John is the lollipop man in the morning and afternoon, but also works in the school canteen at lunchtime and as a cleaner after hours.
Speaking to the Derry News yesterday John said the idea came together after one of the canteen ladies suggested doing sober October.
Because he’s “chatty” it was eventually decided that he'd stay quiet for a day but he said, “that’s nothing”, and upped the ante to a week. “I’ll do it, I’ve got good willpower,” he declared.
Aware of the school's pancake morning in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support John decided that’s where any donations should go.
“I lost my sister to cancer at the age of 18, and my wife died of cancer last year. I also seen the amazing work they did with my brother-in-law. They’re fantastic.”
John has been revelling in the response from parents and school staff who think he has “no chance” of successfully completing the challenge.
“A lot of the wain’s parents would be muckers of mines so they’re having a good laugh with it. I give everybody dog’s abuse so I expected it.
“Even my daughters tell me to shut up because I’m doing their heads in. I used to work as a taxi man and in a bakery at 4 in the morning and they couldn’t listen to me.”
Offering words of encouragement, the Rosemount P.S. Facebook page stated: “We're hoping if this sponsored silence is a success and he'll continue it all year! Keep an eye out for him and if he breaks his silence let us know.
“A great cause - we hope it raises lots of money.”
School principal Paul Bradley said those familiar with John know it is a mammoth task for him to undertake.
“He has the gift of the gab and a word for everyone,” Mr Bradley explained, “for all the children, parents and staff.
“Most people have been sympathetic and tried to support him, but others have been doing their best to get him to talk.
“He’s been doing exceptionally well so far but those who know him will be aware of how challenging it is.”
Commenting under the school’s post about the fundraiser, parents wished John well and spoke of how their children look forward to seeing him in the morning.
Others described it as “mission impossible” and said they were hanging themselves laughing at the thought of him saying nothing, with one person suggesting he even talks in his sleep.
If you’re passing John on Creggan Hill today or tomorrow he said to feel free to make a donation as it will be going to a great cause.

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