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.