A FORMER pupil of a London high school who is now a successful businessman has signed up to sponsor its football teams.
Cork native Michael O’Keeffe was a student at St James Catholic High School in Colindale, north London more than 30 years ago.
He is currently the Managing Director of Magner Holdings – a construction company operating out of bases in Neasden and Wembley in north London and Hatfield in Hertfordshire.
While currently enjoying a period of sustained growth within the business, the company recently decided to give something back to their local community.
Answering a call from St James Head Boy Jospeh Fay, who was committed to finding a corporate sponsor to support the school’s sixth form football team, Mr O’Keeffe agreed to sponsor all of the school’s teams – and provide them with new kits.
“Magner are very proud to sponsor St James Catholic High School,” Mr O’Keeffe told The Irish Post.
“As a past pupil, I felt it was an obvious snooze when our company was considering supporting local grass roots sports teams.”
He added: “St James gave me a great foundation in life and was instrumental in the successes of all my family who attended the school over the years.”
Head Boy Jospeh Fay, who hails from Ballinagh in Co. Cavan, claims having the new sponsor on board has created a real “buzz” within the school.
“We would like to thank Magner for their very generous sponsorship of our school football teams,” he said.
“It has really sent a buzz through the entire team and everyone connected with our school. “We hope Magner continue to grow as a business and we are grateful to receive this generous gesture as part of the firm’s giving back philosophy.”
His sentiments were echoed by Rebecca Mills, a PE teacher at the school, who thanked the sponsors on behalf of the sports department.
“As a past pupil myself, and haven taken part in soccer for a significant part of my life, it is an inspiration seeing a fellow past pupil supporting the school in this way,” Ms Mills, who hails from Belmullet in Co. Mayo, said.
“St James has produced many talented footballers over the years,” she added.
“In March 2017 former pupil Shaun Donnellan received his first call-up to the under-21 Republic of Ireland squad for a UEFA under-21 Championship qualifier against Kosovo, making his debut in a 1–0 victory.
“With the support of Magner, we hope we can continue to produce students of the highest calibre of sporting talent.”
The secondary school, which is located in the London borough of Barnet and has welcomed a large number of Irish students and staff members over the years, has also produced a number of successful business people like Mr O’Keeffe – with Mick Crossan of Powerday Plc and Kevin Coyle of Coyles Personnel among them.
Last month Mr O’Keeffe and members of the Magner Holdings team visited the school for a formal Kit Ceremony, before enjoying lunch with staff and students.
“We wish St James’ football teams the best of luck for the forthcoming season and hope they achieve their aim of becoming the best school team in Barnet across all year groups,” Mr O’Keeffe added.
“One thing is for sure, they will most certainly be the best kitted out team in Barnet.”