A Teacher, A Thinker & An Immigrant Change The World & Euro 2016

Thai School Kids Sing Irish Euro 2016 Song

This is Thai Tims singing with gusto the new Irish Euro 2016 song. There is a deep & beautiful & tragic yet inspirational story behind this. How one man made a big difference.

Berni Lennon is a half British, half Thai boy who loves football but was refused a place in many local Thai schools, because he had Down’s Syndrome.

Enter two retired well off Thais, Mr Praman and Mrs Yuvaret Sarakoses driven by their Buddhist beliefs wanted to help others & set up the Good Child Foundation to help poverty stricken kids falling into crime and deprivation. Triamsuksanayaiam School is one of their projects. Berni’s Mum & Dada made one last desperate appeal to a school to educate their son.

In a simple act of compassion  the Sarakoses said ‘Yes’

Berni was immediately accepted into the school. To demonstrate their gratitude, Berni’s parents, Paul and Rungthiwa volunteered to help to teach English.  With no teaching experience and no resources (for books etc.), they used songs to teach English. Songs from Celtic Football Club (Glasgow).

As you approach the school, you can hear the sounds of “The Fields of Athenry”, “The Town I loved so Well”, “Molly Malone” and “Dirty Old Town” Irish songs normally sung by Celtic fans sing – songs firmly rooted in the Celtic history of hardship, passion and pride.

Youtube Bridge Links Glasgow with Thailand

Things took a giant leap, when Glasgow people saw videos like the one above. Delighted Glaswegians sent donations. A steady flow. Eventually Celtic FC made the Good Child Foundation one of its official charities.  Video s like that above were shown on the big screens at the stadium – to the delighted of all fans.  This was ‘the most marvellous thing’ many fans had ever seen.

Enter 18 Year Old Glaswegian, Reamonn Gormley

Before starting university, a young, talented Glaswegian footballer offered his services as a volunteer for the summer. Along with another Irish student Paul and Rungthiwa took up  his offer. He taught English and sang with the children in the mornings and in the afternoons, he coached the football team (& played baseball). He had played for the Celtic youth team! He stayed with the Lennon’s and soon became like a son to them and like a big brother and best friend to Berni and his younger brother, Steven Noi. In the evenings he’d go to the river and fish with the old men.

Watching a video of Reamonn humbly saying goodbye in Thai and complimenting the whole country on its wonderful food and the most beautiful women in the world. He was relaxed and happy. He promised them he would come back next year.

A few months after returning home to Scotland, Reamonn Gormley was murdered. A mindless stabbing whilst being robbed by  Darren Maxwell, who even went to the same school as reamonn, but Maxwell’s mother was a paranoid schizophrenic and his father was in and out of prison throughout his childhood.  Without resources & inspiration  these patterns continue,  kids falling deeper and deeper into crime. Something that Reamonn was helping to stop.

“It was music that kept their spirit free”

The Thai children sang these words in English. And it is true. Reamonn’s songs will be remembered forever in Thailand and his spirit lives on, still inspiring others.  In fact, in 2012, Paul and Rungthiwa Lennon, along with the support of the Celtic and Chanthaburi communities, somehow got 42 Thai children to travel to Glasgow. They sang for the fans at half time in Celtic Park. During their 3 week tour, they met everyone, including  Reamonn’s family.  Everywhere they went the were cheered. They even crossed the Irish Sea and visited Belfast where they played a concert and met the Lord Mayor. “Meeting them at the Titanic Museum (Belfast) and singing together was something I will never forget.” says Patrick Jackson, author of a wonderful article about Reamonn.

Having achieved more in his few short years than most of us do in a lifetime, Reamonn Gormley will be remembered. May Reamonn’s spirit continue to inspire us all.

 

 

Thanks to Brendan Quirk for alerting us about this wonderful story.

http://www.goodchildfoundation.com

https://www.facebook.com/dgoodchildfoundation/timeline

http://www.eltnews.com/columns/patontheback/2013/06/reamonn_gormley_thai_tims.html

http://www.thecelticwiki.com/page/Supporters+-+Paul+Lennon+and+The+Good+Child+Foundation+(Thailand)

http://www.celticfc.net/mainindex

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3 Responses to A Teacher, A Thinker & An Immigrant Change The World & Euro 2016

  1. Patrick Foley June 8, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    The Thai Tims sing are legendary now. I first saw them singing the Fields of Athenry a while back and was bowled over. What a novel and fun way to teach kids a foreign language !!

    • Paul Smith June 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Yes indeed songs and music open up whole new world of learning for so many people. It’s great to see such a friendly connection between two nations delivered by songs and sport and, of course the great teachers and volunteers who make it happen.

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