Sunderland teacher has a close shave for charity

Gerry O' Hanlon has his beard shaved on his last day at Academy 360.

Gerry O' Hanlon has his beard shaved on his last day at Academy 360.

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A city teacher stepped down from his post in style by having his beard shaved for charity.

Gerry O’Hanlon, who this summer left Academy 360 as assistant headteacher, called in Sunderland College barbering lecturer, Mark Sowerby, to help shave his beard off in aid of a sick youngster.

Gerry and his colleagues Craig Wood, left, and Michael Urwin, who also agreed to be shaved for charity.

Gerry and his colleagues Craig Wood, left, and Michael Urwin, who also agreed to be shaved for charity.

In front of the whole school, Mr O’Hanlon, joined by Michael Urwin, geography teacher, and Craig Wood, history teacher, had their facial hair removed by Mark and one of his apprentices.

The three managed to raise £661 for Tyneside youngster, Isla Howden, who suffers from meconium ileus, a rare bowel condition, and cystic fibrosis and needs a physio vest.

A further £100 was raised through other fund-raising activities at the Pennywell school.

In 1992, Mr O’Hanlon founded a medical aid charity, Mash, Medical Aid Sacred Heart, to help people at home and abroad with medicines and equipment they need.

An Academy 360 pupil helps shave off Michael Urwin's beard.

An Academy 360 pupil helps shave off Michael Urwin's beard.

He said: “Some of us are retired, some working in areas such as retail, business, travel and education and some are health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.”

Based in the North East, each member of the group is a volunteer and all the money raised goes towards helping others.

Mr O’Hanlon said: “One of our medical aid team, Steve Williams, told me about little Isla. She has been through a lot in her short life. I told some of my colleagues at Academy 360 about Isla and they were really keen to help.

“A sponsored beard shave for charity is something I’ve always organised when I’m leaving a school, so as I was leaving Academy 360 this year, we agreed to go for it, and my colleagues Craig Wood and Michael Urwin were keen to join me.

Mark Sowerby, lecturer in barbering at City of Sunderland College, shaves the beard of teacher Craig Wood.

Mark Sowerby, lecturer in barbering at City of Sunderland College, shaves the beard of teacher Craig Wood.

“Another colleague heard about little Isla, spoke to her daughters, and decided to donate the money they’d collected to go for a meal. Other colleagues organised netball matches, staff against pupils, to raise funds. Pupils and colleagues were very generous in donating funds.”

“We are very keen that our pupils develop as caring young people who actively contribute to making the World a better place. This is just one of many initiatives we have organised to build their spiritual, moral, social and cultural awareness.”