20 hopefuls inch closer to becoming an RTÉ Operation Transformation leader.

Participants from all over Ireland gathered together for the first time in Sportslink gym in Santry earlier today (Nov 20) to be physically and emotionally assessed for possible inclusion in the seventh series which is due to air on RTÉ One in early January 2014. 

As part of a live RTÉ Radio 1 broadcast John Murray and his team put the 20 finalists through their paces asking them to share their personal stories; outline why they think they have what it takes to become a leader for Operation Transformation; and how their weight has affected their confidence, lifestyle and wardrobe to date. 

Operation Transformation presenter Kathryn Thomas was on hand along with the four OT experts to encourage and motivate the assembled group. Two new experts have joined the panel - Aoife Hearne - a registered dietician and a member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and Dr. Ciara Kelly, GP and expert in family health join familiar faces Karl Henry, fitness expert and Dr. Eddie Murphy, a Principle Clinical Pyschologist with the HSE.

Next week, from Monday November 25 to Friday November 29, Kathryn Thomas will travel to the homes of the five selected leaders to unveil their participation in the series live on John’s radio show on Radio 1 at 9am. 

Speaking in Santry today Kathryn Thomas said, “It’s brilliant to be here today ahead of the seventh series. It’s a huge undertaking to become an Operation Transformation leader – there’s a camera crew shadowing you constantly. It’s intense but that’s why it works – it’s easier when there’s a support network around you who want you to succeed.” 

John Murray, RTÉ Radio 1 presenter said: “I'm delighted to be back on air in time for the launch of Operation Transformation 2014. We've seen in previous series, and I know only too well, that a healthy body and a healthy mind are so closely connected to each other.”

Last year’s five leaders - Monica Percy, Deirdre Hosford, Charlotte O’Connell, Gavin Walker and Greg Starr surpassed their original series targets and collectively lost 11 stone 6 pounds.