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28th Jun 2019

Family of Laura Brennan ask Irish sports clubs to get behind HPV jersey campaign

Conor Heneghan

More than 50 clubs throughout Ireland are already on board.

The family of the late Laura Brennan are asking sports clubs throughout Ireland to consider wearing a HPV vaccine logo on their jerseys or training gear in advance of all first-year boys and girls being offered the lifesaving HPV vaccine from September 2019.

The jersey campaign has already received public support from the senior hurling team in Laura’s home county of Clare, while over 50 clubs in a number of counties throughout Ireland have also got on board.

The initiative is designed to raise awareness of the importance of the HPV vaccine. Teams and individuals are simply asked to wear the HPV logo jersey, take a photo wearing it and share on social media using the hashtags #ProtectOurFuture and #ThankYouLaura.

Training tops are available to order from Boru Sports, while if clubs want to use their own kit supplier or a local supplier, they can download high resolution versions of the logos below here (pink logo) and here (teal logo).

Any and all queries on the initiative can be emailed to [email protected].

Laura Brennan was 26 when she passed away on 20 March from cervical cancer. She spent the last 18 months of her life working alongside the HSE to advocate for the HPV vaccine, a vaccine that the health service provides to protect young people from the HPV virus that caused her cancer.

When the documentary Laura Brennan: This is Me was released recently by RTE, the Brennan family – Laura’s parents Larry and Bernie, and her three brothers Colin, Fergal and Kevin – appeared on The Late Late Show to discuss her life and legacy.

Following their Late Late Show appearance, the Brennan family were contacted by the management of the Clare senior hurling team with an offer of support.

Inspired by an initiative a few weeks earlier by the GMIT fresher hurlers, the Brennan family asked the Clare team to put the HPV vaccine logo on the training jerseys of the Clare senior hurling team.

The initiative grew from there and there are currently more than 50 clubs in a number of counties signed up to wear the HPV jersey. The initiative is not designed to raise funds, but to help raise awareness of the vaccine before all first-year boys and girls are offered it from September of this year onwards.

Laura had contacted the HSE in 2017, after she received the news that her cancer was terminal. The uptake rates for the HPV vaccine had fallen to just 51% after a campaign of misinformation, but now, with Laura’s help, 70% of last year’s first-year girls were vaccinated.

“Laura had a vision, a vision for a future where HPV is eradicated and the cancers that it causes no longer exists,” Laura’s brother, Kevin, said.

“Australia and Scotland are already well on their way to achieving this and we want Ireland to be next, in Laura’s name. She spoke out so that the young people of today won’t have to go through what she went through and so that no family would have to go through what we’re going through.”

“I’m thrilled with how people have taken this on, from a couple of social media posts there is a huge drive behind this, what I’m hearing from the clubs coming on board is that they want to honour Laura and they believe in the vaccine,” Kevin added.

“Who better to spread the word that this vaccine is safe and effective and it saves lives than our sporting heroes of all ages? Now we want as many clubs of all codes and players of all ages to consider wearing the logo with pride and adding their voices to fight against HPV related cancers.”

For more information on the HPV vaccine, visit the HSE’s website.

The RTE documentary, Laura Brennan: This is Me is available to watch on the RTÉ player.

Featured image via Eamon Ward Photography