Operation Transformation is back, and we are looking for YOU

The search is now on for new leaders to take up the mantle and inspire the nation in 2020

Operation Transformation is taking a 20/20 vision to health in the New Year.   

Presenter Kathryn Thomas is back to spearhead the latest campaign to get the nation moving. Once again, we are encouraging the Irish public to get up, get active and get healthy. Over the course of the 8-week show, we’ll be giving the nation the tools they need to get moving, lose weight and feel great.

Kathryn Thomas is thrilled to be back. She says,

“I can’t wait for the next season of OT! The leaders are what make the show every year. For me, an OT leader is somebody who is really ready and committed to changing their lives. Someone who is sick of feeling stuck and knows that 2020 is the year to change everything! To take back control and to help countless people as they help themselves.” 

From 27th September, the public gets yet another chance to become a part of the big Operation Transformation journey, as a nationwide search gets underway to find the next five brave new leaders to inspire the country to health and wellness in 2020. 

For the first time in its history, OT will be based in the heartland of Ireland - Co. Offaly. We’ll be looking to sort out the mid-rift of the midlands in January and February and inspire the whole country to get fit, get active and get healthy. 

Dr Aileen McGloin, Director of Marketing & Communications with Operation Transformation sponsors safefood said:

"2020 marks ten years of our sponsorship of Operation Transformation and we’re delighted with the role it plays in helping communities to get healthier together. Our most recent research shows that 1 in 3 people who watched OT reported making a positive lifestyle change as a result of the show. We’re looking forward to inspiring more people to become part of the OT movement and make a start on their own weight-loss journey next year.”

Last year saw the biggest turn-out yet for the hugely popular GAA lights up campaign - helping communities across the 32 counties come together and enjoy getting fit and healthy in the safe surroundings of their local GAA club. Our annual nationwide walks campaign also saw people turn out in record numbers all across the country.

This morning, presenter Kathryn Thomas joined former leaders Cathal Gallagher (Donegal), Pamela Swayne (Cork), Siobhan O’Brien (Dublin) and Paul Murphy (Sligo) to announce the call out for the thirteenth season of the show.

Not available was ex-leader Jean Tierney who won the hearts of the nation with her story of miscarriages and child loss. However last season, Jean had to leave the programme mid-way for the most wonderful reason imaginable. Jean discovered she was in the very early stages of pregnancy and had to withdraw from the show as a leader. We are delighted to announce that she has just given birth to a beautiful baby and all are doing well.    
All four of last year’s leaders forged ahead with their health and weight-loss journeys after the cameras left their homes and communities, and together they have ditched a whopping 13st 13lbs (87kg) since starting the Operation Transformation food and fitness plan in January 2019. Their success has been amazing and an inspiration to anyone wanting to make that change.

So, if you think the time is right for you to turn your life around. If you want this to be YOUR year to get fit and healthy, then now is the time to apply.

Application Link 
Facebook page


Friday 27 September 2019

Further Information – Fergus McCormack, RTÉ communications, Fergus.mccormack@rte.ie 086 8674751

Images from today’s casting callout will be sent to picture desks by Andres Poveda on behalf of RTÉ or call (086) 834 3242

Notes to editors – 2019 Leaders Biogs

Siobhan O’Brien
Siobhan was our leader from Clonsilla. Siobhan had worked her way up to becoming the youngest vice principal in the country when OT came along. She always strived for more of a work/life balance and felt she had lost this in recent years. 

Siobhan freely admitted she felt like a hypocrite in front of classes she was teaching promoting healthy living and the benefits of exercise. Siobhan had an athletic past, as she had represented Ireland in taekwondo. She used her competitive spirit to drive her weight loss on the show and also win the OT cookery challenge. She now has the confidence and energy to rejoin the gym and keep her remarkable weight loss story going.

Siobhan was single and very resistant to the idea she was unhappy with this situation. She DID admit that her current weight stopped her from looking. However, our own Kathryn Thomas managed to convince her in the course of the series to set up a Tinder profile and get back out there.

As a leader on the show and as a leader in her school Siobhan has made remarkable progress with her health and fitness. She has lost a total of 4 stone so far and looks and feels great. 

Siobhan said

"OT for me was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I feel great and the ripple effect it has had on the school and my family and friends is incredible. The best part for me has been getting back into exercise. I’m loving the local gym I’ve joined and signing up for random fitness activities at the weekend. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about it, to bite the bullet and just go for it.”

Starting Weight - 17st 6lbs / Weight at end of show - 15st 7lbs / Current Weight - 13st 8lbs

Paul Murphy
Paul was our overworked entrepreneur from Tubbercurry in Co. Sligo. Paul’s various family run businesses – a busy shop and hotel meant he was working every hour of the day. His eating habits consisted of a full Irish every morning in the hotel and picking from the sweet shelf in the shop during the day and late into the evening.  

Paul is married with two kids but never saw them due to a heavy workload. His father had died suddenly when Paul was a boy and his greatest fear was the same thing happening to him because of his unhealthy lifestyle. He readily admits he was close to complete burn-out when OT came along. During the show, Paul opened up to friends and family about the pressures he felt under, something he had never revealed previously as he felt it wasn’t ‘manly’. Finding the love and support from his family gave Paul a new lease of life.  

Paul’s biggest change (apart from his waistline) is now his work / life balance. He makes time for himself and the family and has taken on extra staff for the workload. He has kept the exercise regime up since the show and is determined to hit his target of losing four stone in the near future.  

Paul commented

“Becoming an OT leader was the best decision I ever made for my own health.  The experience was intense at times, but opened the door for me to be honest with how I was feeling inside.  The strength that I have gained from showing my vulnerability has opened my eyes for men especially to express how we feel. This was my time and I’m so happy that I was given the opportunity to get the help that I needed.  What I’ve learned from my time on Operation transformation is that It’s ok to ask for help”
Starting Weight - 19st 13lbs / Weight at end of show - 17st 1lb / Current Weight - 16st 5lbs

Pamela Swayne 
Pamela was our mum of four from Youghal in Co. Cork. Her busy household (four kids, seven dogs & husband Sean) was described (on more than one occasion) by our mentors as ‘chaotic’. 

Pamela started OT with a self-confessed love of food. Her part-time job at the local petrol station / deli meant she had easy access to all the treats. This access she used with aplomb and coupled with a lack of regular exercise over the years, Pam was feeling like she’d lost herself when OT began.  

She was spurred on to apply for OT when her youngest daughter compared her to the bearded lady in their favourite musical The Greatest Showman. She wanted OT to help her get fit and fabulous for her impending 40th birthday. Pam actually started with the highest cholesterol levels of all five leaders but showed amazing progress and got it under control over the short eight weeks on OT AND she quit smoking into the bargain. She was the leader chosen to get to the summit of the Sugarloaf mountain during the leader’s physical challenge in week 3three and she completed the 5K, a race she thought wasn’t possible for her, in under 35 minutes.    
She continues to keep up the exercise regime with the family and on her rare moments alone and is determined to get herself fit and fabulous at 40.    

Pam said

“OT for me was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve never looked back and although it was extremely tough leaving my family every weekend for eight weeks it sure was worth it. Nothing will ever give me that amazing feeling that I got crossing that 5k line. it was definitely a dream come true and something I thought I’d never be able to achieve. Like all of us 2019 brought its highs and its lows, losing Sean’s brother in April rocked my world. I lost focus and slipped a little but I’m back feeling stronger and fitter than ever before. I look forward to seeing what the future brings . 40 fit and fabulous is looking good!”

Starting Weight - 14st / Weight at end of show - 12st 13lbs / Current Weight - 13 st

Cathal Gallagher
Cathal Gallagher from Co. Donegal was OT’s heaviest ever leader with a starting weight of 26 st 10lbs. Cathal is a paramedic and blamed his weight gain (in part) to the shift work, the constant need to ‘dashboard dine’ and stress of the job. 

Cathal is married to Polish born wife Agi (who was the person who actually applied FOR Cathal - ANOTHER FIRST) and they have a 3-year-old girl Mija. Cathal dreams of walking his little girl down the aisle someday but because of his weight couldn’t see himself still being around to do it. 

Unsurprisingly, at the outset Cathal’s fitness levels were also the worst OT had encountered in its 12-year history. Cathal was estimated to have the fitness levels of an 80-year-old.  Despite this, he threw himself into the OT fitness and food plan and lost an astonishing 16Ibs in his first week. Over the course of the series he made huge strides in getting his metabolic stats (BP etc) back into normal ranges for his age group. 

Cathal’s biggest eye-opener was definitely the love and support he received from his family, colleagues in the HSE, local community and the nation as he embarked on his OT journey. He credits this outpouring of support as the reason for his continued success and well-being. 

During his eight weeks with OT Cathal was a major advocate for mental health, encouraging people to speak to a loved one about whatever troubles them. Cathal’s natural empathy and communication skills have led him to speaking engagements across the country in various third level institutions and he continues this work today.  He now looks forward to walking his daughter down the aisle in the very distant future. 

Cathal commented

"My involvement in Operation Transformation this year has without doubt saved my life. My initial fear about laying bare my soul was allayed because of the genuine love, support and understanding shown to me by the production team, the panel of experts, my community, in fact the whole country along with my family, has and still is incredible. I've had a few bumps over the summer but we, the leaders, have stayed in touch and when we have an issue we share, support and motivate each other. 

Without doubt I would encourage anyone who wants to transform their outlook in life, be it a change in physical health or even more importantly a mental health change, to apply to become an Operation Transformation leader. It works, I'm living proof it does!!!”

Starting Weight - 26st 10lbs / Weight at end of show - 23st / Current Weight - 21st 3 lbs