Head of Player Sustainability Research and Integrity Team
I have attended numerous sessions and discussions about the extents of harm due to gambling, and listening to Tony’s story was out of this world. His approach, presentation skills and modest nature made each participant in the room humbled and in awe. I feel lucky that I could listen to this story and I am grateful for Tony’s strength and professional presentation.
Guidance Counsellor, St Mary’s Academy, CBS, Carlow
As part of our Wellbeing Week, past pupil Tony O’Reilly made a presentation to senior cycle students about his life story detailing his descent into the hell of gambling addiction and the impact that it had on himself, his family and the wider community. Both students and teachers present described the talk as stunning in its rawness and vivid depiction of how an ordinary person’s life utterly changed by the progression from placing a small bet to having an online betting account with a turnover of over 10 million. Despite the bleakness of his gambling, the redemptive nature of the story of how Tony reinvented himself as an Addiction Counsellor and a Motivational Speaker provided a wonderful message of hope and optimism. I have rarely seen such a level of engagement form such a large group of students in my 27 years of teaching. Students described the presentation as the best they had ever attended.
The students really engaged with Tony’s powerful personal story , what seemed like a harmless football bet for him, turned into a serious gambling addiction, a journey that eventually led to him having a turnover of €10m in his Paddy Power account but owing 1.75 million. I found Tony very open and gave an honest account of his addiction struggles. This helped our students to understand addiction and show them the pitfalls of gambling. The talk gave students a platform to work and discuss the issue in an open forum. I believe this is what students and the Irish education system needs by removing the fear of discussing difficult issues.
Óige Nua Education
I heard the story of the Postmaster that had gambled 10 million and stole 1.75 million some years back but to hear Tony O’ Reilly’s story face to face is powerful. You could see that our students and staff were amazed at how anyone’s life can unravel with addiction. I admire Tony’s courage and resilience on how he has turned his life around and is now supporting and advocating on addiction. I would recommend any school to use Tony’s story to start a conversation about gambling addiction.
Tony visited the school to meet with our 5th and 6th year students. From the start he developed a good rapport and it was clear the students were in a safe zone with him. The hand held devices that allowed for answering questions provided great insight into student behaviour and attitudes. On the following Monday all students shared that they had learned a lot about the addiction. They also felt they could now recognise signs of addiction in others. Tony’s honest and frank account of the damage his addiction had caused throughout his family was remarkable. I would highly recommend him as a speaker to senior cycle students in any school.
Presentation College Carlow
Tony spoke to all our Transition Year and Fifth Year students on the topic of addiction. His talk was searingly honest, poignant and engaging all the way through. The students benefitted greatly from the personal experience of a local man. It was clear that the students were completely captivated with the topic and the speaker. They asked many genuine questions and were talking about the topic for some time afterwards.