The Leaders

Leader Name

Jean Tierney

Proud Limerick lady Jean (33) lives in Holycross with 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 messers and knew no one would believe them.

Paddy and Jean have known each other since they were 15/16 and started seeing each other for a few years on and off. They broke up when Jean went to Australia in 2009 but when she returned they got back in touch and carried on seeing each other on and off again. During their early courtship it was Paddy doing all the chasing but now it was Jean’s turn. They have been together now for 3 years and moved in together in May 2016.

Jean is very close to her family, they live up the road and her parents Breda (57) and Tom (54) have been a huge support to her and Paddy over the last few years. She has one brother John (30) who is married with 2 children of his own. Jean dotes on her nieces Robyn (8) and Fearne (2). They have also kept her going over the last year, Robyn especially; she’s like Jean’s shadow. John works as a Fitness Instructor so he has been a great help to Jean, she only wishes he could help her stop emotional eating.

Jean started work as the Sales and Marketing Manager for House nightclub in Limerick back in 2016 and she loves her job, they have been a huge support to her over the last few years.

In January of this year she gave birth to a little girl they called Sloane (warrior). She had an ectopic pregnancy before this and doctors were monitoring her but she developed complications at seven months. Sloane passed away at just 5 days old on the 26th January.

Jean said the hospital support system in the Maternity Ward in Limerick was amazing but she piled on the weight after her baby died and cannot get control of it. Her biggest problem is emotional eating, she would have no problem walking or doing physical activity but she can’t stop eating once she gets upset.

Jean is also lacking in motivation, she has taken up multiple exercise classes with friends and family over the last year but she can’t seem to keep going. Even though Jean is handling her grief remarkably well, some days she can’t face the world outside and she just pulls the curtains. Chocolates and jellies are her go to foods, she could eat full share size bags of jellies and not even taste them. Jean is now at her heaviest and with a wedding on the horizon she just wants to get a handle on her weight once and for all.

Jean applied for Operation Transformation because she always likes to try and make something positive out of a tough situation and feels with the help of the show she can break her bad habits. Her big dream would be to run a 5k in 30 mins.

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Leader Name
Leader Name

Cathal Gallagher

Cathal(48) works as a paramedic with the Ambulance service based in Ballyshannon and lives with his wife Agi (36) and daughter Maja (2).

Cathal has been working with the Ambulance service for 20 years now and loves his job. He has huge passion for helping people and putting the needs of others before his own. He is also a peer support worker, which involves supporting other colleagues who have dealt with hard situations.

Before working with the ambulance service Cathal used to work in a factory. It was here that he was involved in an accident. He was taking a piece of rubber out of a machine when it activated and it crushed his hand. He was taken to hospital and ended up having the tops of his middle finger amputated as it got infected. After 7 surgery’s doctors were able to restore most of the functionality in his hand.

Cathal always had a keen interest in first aid and was involved in the lifeboat station in Bundoran. For this reason he decided a few years after the accident to train as a paramedic. He first began as a driver for the ambulance service, shadowing the paramedics and then trained for 6 months before becoming fully qualified. He says the main trait for any paramedic should be compassion and being able to talk to the patient.

Growing up Cathal never had any weight issues. After the accident with his hand he had to spend 2 and half months in St. James hospital and while roaming the corridors one night he smelt the Chinese take away the nurses had ordered in. They offered him some of their food and every night that they were ordering food he would get a take away. From here it was a downward spiral and his weight continued to go up. Within two years Cathal had reached 15 stone. He was staying at home eating continuously and doing no activity at all. It wasn’t until he joined the ambulance service that he realised his weight was getting out of hand. He tried a number of weight loss options that he would stick at for a while but once he started to fall off the wagon he would give up altogether. Finally when he reached 25 stone he knew there had to be some drastic changes.

During this time Cathal met his wife Agi. She was working in the Sligo General hospital and he even learned how to speak some Polish to try and impress her. After eventually winning her around and dating for a couple of years they got married in 2008.

Cathal has decided that big changes need to be made. He knows he needs to start dealing with issues from work instead of turning to food. Whenever he has a bad day he turns to food instead of talking to someone else. He buries everything to the back of his head and binge eats when his emotions begin to surface.

Cathal is a type two diabetic and has high cholesterol and with his training he knows what his weight is doing to his health. He wants to change his lifestyle and be a good example for his daughter but also his work colleagues.

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Leader Name
Leader Name

Pamela Swayne

Mother of 4 Pamela (37) 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 and is well known in the area.

Pamela is the youngest of 5 children, she has 4 older sisters Valerie (47), Teresa (46), Alison (45) and Hazel (44) with 7 years to Pam. The sisters have always been very close even though there was such a big gap. When their mother Mary (now 70) brought her home from the hospital the girls fought over her. Hazel especially spoiled her rotten.

Pamela met her now husband Sean when they were still at Secondary School, they’d been going out for over a year when Pamela found out she was pregnant at the age of 17 just months after she lost her dad. Though the year was extremely difficult for the whole family Pamela had daughter Ally in April and still sat her Leaving Cert that June. Since then though Pamela hasn’t really given herself time to deal with the loss of her dad.

Pamela and Sean are still going strong and got married 10 years ago and added 3 more children to the family. It’s a lot to deal with for Pamela and even though she wouldn’t swap her children or when she had them, she hasn’t had much time to just be carefree.

Pamela has tried all kinds of diets in the past but she’s never managed to keep the weight off. She is also an emotional eater so when she’s in good form she goes all out with proper family dinners but if she’s had a bad day she reaches for the easy option. She loves food and the more convenient the better, chipper, Chinese, jambons, hotdog lattice, crisps, chocolate anything that’s hassle free. Pamela does not want her children to follow in her footsteps.

Pamela was always sporty growing up, she loved swimming and was always active. She says she can’t even blame having Ally for the start of her weight gain because she was only a few months old when Pamela went on a sun holiday with a friend. She even wore a bikini but that was 18 years ago. She jokes that she hasn’t seen her ‘fanduka’ (private area) in years.

Pamela comes across as bubbly and outgoing but she hides how she really feels about her weight.

Pamela has come to the stage in her life that she just wants to tackle her weight once and for all. She’s hoping to go on another sun holiday with friends for her next big birthday and wear a bikini again. With 3 years to go to she needs to get moving. Pamela wants to be 40, fit and healthy!

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Leader Name
Leader Name

Paul Murphy

Paul (41) is the manager and owner of Murphy’s Hotel in Tubbercurry and the Eurospar next door. He lives with his wife Sonya and two children Ava (8) and Ethan (1). The hotel is a family run business and has been in the Murphy family for 40 years. Paul and Sonya have been married for a year but have been together for 12 years.

When Paul was younger his parents ran a pub and shop, which he would often help out in. Paul’ s father died suddenly. He was 12 years old at the time and his younger brother Barry was 3 and Brian was 1.

This loss left a huge hole in the family and his mother Mary had to take over the business and raise 3 kids on her own. His father was just 39 when he died and his mother was 37 years old. His mother grew the business to a 3 star hotel and a Eurospar supermarket. Paul had to either help with the business in his free time or help his mother out with his brothers. While Paul kept a very active life as a teenager playing a lot of GAA he had to grow up before his time.

After finishing school Paul began a career in banking and eventually worked his way up to assistant manager in The Permanent TSB bank in Wexford. Although Paul was enjoying his life in Wexford it didn’t come without any stresses. After working as an assistant manager for a year Paul went home to Sligo to help his mother run the business. Last year himself 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.

Running the business can be very stressful at times and Paul feels he doesn’t have a good work life balance. He spends most of time in the hotel and eats most of his meals there. He would often eat a full Irish breakfast in the hotel before work. Barry being the chef in the hotel sees exactly what Paul is eating and is very concerned about his health. Barry and Brian are very active and Paul would love to be able to join them in their activities but he feels with his weight be would just be holding them back.

Since getting married and having another child Paul wants to change his lifestyle and start looking after his health. He is just 2 years older than his father was when he died so he doesn’t want to leave his wife alone with 2 children.

At the moment Paul’s health is fine but he is well aware of the health conditions he is setting himself up for if things don’t change. His wife is very considerate about him as is his mother. Ann is retired but is still around the business every day to give a helping hand. Paul is very well respected in Tubbercurry and has a lot of community support.

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Leader Name
Leader Name

Siobhán O’Brien

Siobhan (30) resides alone and works as a secondary school teacher in Luttrellstown Community College. She grew up in Clonshaugh and is the youngest of 3 girls and they are a very close family. Her Mum Rita and Dad Joe have always been very supportive of her and this time is no different.

Growing up Siobhan was always very sporty and involved in everything in her community. During secondary school and University she was an Irish dancer, a keen footballer and was on the Irish Taekwondo team.

Siobhan was the first in her family to go to University and studied Science Education in DCU from 2006 to 2010 and became a Science and Maths teacher. Since leaving college she has been working in Luttrellstown Community College and has been very successful in her career becoming the youngest Assistant Principal in the country four years ago at the age of 26.

During the seven years since finishing college Siobhan's weight has fluctuated. She was in a relationship for 3 years and this is when her weight increased significantly. In the past no matter what weight she was, she was always active, fit and enjoyed physical activity but in the last couple of years that has all changed. She has stopped doing all activities and her confidence is completely gone. She has become very self-conscious and is afraid of what everyone will think when she tries something, as she might be the biggest person in the room.

Siobhan is a huge adventurer and having 12 weeks off in the summer gives her great opportunities to travel the world. Her close friend and work colleague Noelle does all the travelling with her and they have been to places like South Africa, Southeast Asia, Croatia and Bulgaria. Noelle says that Siobhan is always the one pushing her to do activities when they are travelling.

She is ready to make a change and she has a very supportive family behind her. She hopes she can break down the barrier she has built up over the years and get back to being happy in herself. Her ambition is to run the Dublin City Marathon.

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