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Music student Matthew is worthy recipient of NWRC Gerard Finnegan award

21 June 2024
Woman and man on a stage holding a trophy. The screen behind says Best in Further Education awards 2024
Man and woman in front of a blue screen with NWRC branding. The man is holding a trophy and certificate and the woman is holding a proud mum sign.

A student from North West Regional College who is pursuing his dream of becoming a professional musician has been awarded The Gerard Finnegan Memorial award at the college’s 2024 Best in Further Education celebrations.

Mathew Magee (23) who is studying for the Level 3 Diploma in Creative Music has impaired vision and hearing which is caused by a condition called craniopharyngioma, a benign tumour which generally occurs above the pituitary gland.

The former Royal and Prior student has no vision in his right eye and some vision in his left, and he has blind registration status. Matthew also experiences significant bilateral hearing loss and wears a hearing aid.

The singer, guitarist and drummer said his condition has never held him back adding that he uses both human support and assistive technology to improve his accessibility and make the most of his studies.

He said: “Nothing should hold anyone back – there are so many technologies that can help you. I use an IPAD with intensive magnification to read my music and I have a foot pedal to turn the pages on my digital music.

“As well as my hearing and vision impairment I also have four metal plates in my jaw where I was kicked by a horse.

“I am very happy to have been selected to receive this award. I love studying music and the goal is to continue studying and then go on to become a full-time gigging musician.

“I’m lucky that I have so many people who support me – my mum Marilda , my fellow musicians and lecturers, my friends in the Ulster-Scots band in Raphoe, and most importantly Richard Gilpin who was my first guitar teacher.”

Dr. Catherine O’Mullan, Director of Curriculum and Academic Standards at NWRC who presented the award said: “We are delighted to present this award for the third year in memory of our friend and former NWRC Governing Body chair Gerard Finnegan, remembering his integrity and passion for education.

“Matthew is a superb student and a very worthy recipient. He is very active and outgoing and takes part in all class activities and was the main singer at our recent Campus of Hope event at Strand Road.

“Matthew has been presented with this award recognizing endeavour and accomplishment. I wish him all the best for his future studies and career.”

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