Ironman Paddy aids Charlene’s Project

FORMER international rugby player Paddy Johns has dug deeper than most to give Charlene’s Project a boost.

Paddy took on the gruelling Ironman France challenge in Nice, raising £1,065 in the process for Hidden Treasure Primary School, the brainchild of the late Charlene Barr.

Not one for plaudits, the 43-year-old said what he went through in the ironman was nothing compared to what Charlene had gone through.

He said: “It wasn’t a chore at all. I was doing it anyway. I was just glad I was able to raise money for such a worthy cause in the process.

“The really important thing here is Charlene’s Project. What she’s done is amazing.

“People look at the ironman and think I couldn’t do that. You can do a lot more than you think if you believe.

“The ironman is nothing compared to what Charlene achieved.”

Paddy, who lives near Donaghcloney with his wife Kirsty and children Megan, Hannah, Emily and Chris, started at 6.30am in the morning to complete a 3.8km swim, followed by a 180km cycle and a 44km run in extremely hot conditions.

Due to the high temperatures Paddy ‘hit a wall’ five miles into the run. He said he found that knowing he was doing the event to raise money for Charlene’s Project helped him keep going. Paddy thanked everyone who donated money and helped with fundraising in particular Ciaran Toal.

Paddy was capped 59 times for Ireland and captained his country on a number of occasions. He was delighted to be able to present the money to Dickie Barr, Charlene’s dad who is going out to Uganda in August for the official opening of Hidden Treasure school, the school built through the incredible fundraising efforts of his daughter Charlene.

Charlene died in October last year and her efforts raised the money to build Hidden Treasure School in Maya, Uganda.

Dickie said: “We so appreciate Paddy raising the money through the ironman event and also everyone who donated.

“I couldn’t believe just how gruelling the event was until I read what Paddy had to do. He is an incredible athlete and the money he has raised will be used to continue the work Charlene started in the community around the school where there are so many vulnerable children and orphans.”

Dickie added: “It will be very emotional being at Hidden Treasure in August and seeing the 220 children in in the new school building all because Charlene had a vision for a better future for children in Uganda.

“Although she did not see the school completed, she is the one who made the difference for all those children who we will have the privilege of meeting when we are in Uganda.”

Anyone who wants to support Paddy and the work that Charlene started can donate online at