Thursday 20 June 2019

Operation Transformation is back tonight - don your spandex and meet the leaders

Operation Transformation leaders with presenter Kathryn Thomas
Operation Transformation leaders with presenter Kathryn Thomas
Operation Transformation experts
Dr Sumi Dunne, Operation Transformation
Psychologist Dr Eddie Cunningham
Dietician Aoife Hearne, Operation Transformation
Fitness expert Karl Henry, Operation Transformation
Paul Murphy, Operation Transformation
Pamela Swayne, Operation Transformation
Siobhan O'Brien, Operation Transformation
Jean Tierney, Operation Transformation
Cathal Gallagher, Operation Transformation
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Operation Transformation kicks off tonight for its 12th series, just in time to provide inspiration and advice on how to start the new year armed with healthier habits.

There are some changes to the RTE series this year, in the form of a new medical expert, Dr Sumi Dunne, a new base in Balbriggan, and new challenges.

Dr Sumi will be joined by regulars, psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy, dietician Aoife Hearne, and fitness expert Karl Henry.

Kathryn Thomas is back to present and she'll be heading up the campaign to get the nation in gear to complete a 5K run by the end of the eight week series.

At the centre of the series, as ever, are the five leaders, the ordinary members of the public who, for one reason or another, want and need to lose weight and whose journey viewers can follow week to week.

Meet this year's leaders...

Jean Tierney (33) from Bruff, Co Limerick

Jean Tierney, Operation Transformation

Original weight: 15 stone 1lb

Jean (33) lives in Holycross with her fiancé Paddy (35). She works as a Sales and Marketing Manager for nightclub, House in Limerick. They got engaged on April Fool’s Day because they are both practical jokers and knew no one would believe them.

However, they have had a very difficult year.  In January Jean gave birth to a little girl called Sloane (which means warrior).  Her first pregnancy was an ectopic pregnancy so she was being monitored through this pregnancy but developed complications at seven months.

Sloane was born and seemed perfect but suddenly developed what they thought was a serious lung disorder.  Sloane was flown to Sweden to see a team of specialists but doctors there discovered she had a heart defect which they were unable to treat.

She was flown home to spend her last days with Jean, Paddy, and their family.  She sadly passed away at just five days old.

The traumatic experience has had an impact on Jean's weight because, she says, she is an emotional eater.  She has no problem walking or doing exercise but she cannot stop eating once she gets upset.  She's speaking out publicly about losing Sloane to help other mothers who may be going through a similar experience to cope.  She knows that her eating is related to what happened.

Now, however, she wants to try to move on, feeling thankful that she got to hold her little girl for a little while. She wants to lose the weight and get fit and enjoy her wedding day and hopefully start a family at some stage.


Cathal Gallagher (48) from Ballyshannon, Co Donegal

cathal gallagher.jpg
Cathal Gallagher, Operation Transformation

Original weight: 26 stone 12.5lb

Cathal (48) has worked as a paramedic with the Ambulance Service in Ballyshannon for 20 years and lives with his wife Agi (36) and daughter Maja (2).

He loves his job and is a peer support worker, which involves supporting other colleagues who have dealt with difficult situations.

Prior to joining the Ambulance Service he worked in a factor where he was involved in an accident.  He was taking a piece of rubber out of a machine when it activated and crushed his hand, resulting in him havin gthe top of his middle finger amputated. However, after seven surgeries doctors managed to restore 75 per cent functionality to his hand.

Following the accident Cathal became isolated at home and did not realise how much weight he had gained until he joined the Ambulance Service.  He is a type two diabetic and has high cholesterol and is aware of the damage his weight is doing to his health.

Cathal fears he will die in his sleep but wants to be around to see his two -year-old daughter grow up.  He wants to change this lifestyle and be a good example for his daughter but also his work colleagues.


Paul Murphy (41) from Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

Paul Murphy, Operation Transformation

Original weight: 20 stone

Paul (41) is the manager and owner of Murphy’s Hotel in Tubbercurry, a family run business which has been in the Murphy family for 40 years. He lives with his wife Sonya (39) and two children Ava (8) and Ethan (1).

Paul encountered tragedy when he was just 12 years old.  His parents ran a pub and a shop and within the shop there was a butchers in which his father worked.  In December 1989 his father Barthley nicked his hand while working and the next day Paul remembers his father saying he did not feel very well.

Within a couple of days his father was in hospital and Paul remembers him telling him he was going to die and he had to be the man of the house and look after everyone.  His father passed away the following day.  Paul was 12, his younger brother Barry was 3 and Brian was just one.

Last year Paul and his brother Barry bought the business from their mum. His brother Barry is one of the chefs in the restaurant and Paul manages the running of the business.

Paul is now just two years older than his father was when he died so he wants to avoid any possibly health problems which may develop in future due to his weight.


Pamela Swayne (36) from Youghal, Co Cork

Pamela Swayne, Operation Transformation

Original weight: 13 stone 12.5lb

Mum of four Pamela (36) lives in Youghal with husband Sean (36) and children Ally (18), Leigh (10), Lilly (7) and Mickie (4). She works part time in the Amber Petrol Station in Youghal.

Pamela found out she was pregnant at the age of 17 with Ally just months after she lost her father Thomas in February 1999. Thomas passed away from lung cancer just three weeks after being diagnosed.

Though the year was extremely difficult for the whole family Pamela had Ally in April and still sat her Leaving Cert in June. However, Pamela feels she has not given herself the time to deal with losing her dad.

A regular dieter, she has never managed to keep the weight off.  She also admits she's an emotional eater so when she is in good form she eats healthily with family dinners but on bad days she reaches for the easy option.

She loves convenience food and take-aways; chipper, Chinese takeaways, jambons, hotdog lattice, crisps, chocolate, but she does not want her children to follow in her footsteps.

While she comes across as bubbly and outgoing she says she hides how she really feels about her weight.  Recently she was listening to This is Me from The Greatest Showman with her daughter Liliy in the car when Lily said, 'Mum, that's you' and that was a turning point for her.


Siobhan O'Brien (30), Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Siobhan O'Brien, Operation Transformation

Original weight: 17 stone 4.5lb

Siobhan (30) lives alone and works as a secondary school teacher in Luttrelstown Community College. She grew up in Clonshaugh and is the youngest of three girls in a very close family. Her mum Rita and dad Joe have always been very supportive of her and this time is no different.

Siobhan was always very sporty growing up and through secondary school and university she was an Irish dancer, footballer and was on the Irish Taekwondo team.

However, in the seven years since finishing college Siobhan's weight has fluctuated and Siobhan feels that the children in her school don't take her seriously when she speaks about healthy living and the importance of activity so she wants to set an example for them.

Siobhan's ambition is to run the Dublin City Marathon.

Operation Transformation kicks off on RTE One at 9.35pm tonight.

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top