Since we began growing our team of advocates to create our organisation, we have seen some volunteers come and go. This is the nature of volunteer work with people who live with a chronic illness. All of our volunteers give their time freely when they can, despite employment, caring for family members and living with the disease of obesity and all the barriers that life brings itself. We want to thank our volunteers both past and present for the work they do in order to improve the lives for people living with obesity in Ireland.
Vicki Mooney lives in Lanzarote, originally from Dublin. She is a Patient Advocate, Public Speaker, and the Executive Director of the ECPO. Vicki uses her voice to help address the stigma, bias and discrimination perpetrated against people living with Obesity. Whilst not only working on various projects across Europe & now globally, to ensure we see better access to quality treatment, management and education, but also to help drive forward prevention of obesity across Europe.
Vicki is the Chair of the Board of Directors for ICPO
Susie Birney lives in Dublin. Living with a food disorder called ARFID she understands that there is not only one cause for obesity and not one treatment which will always work. Type 2 Diabetes and other co-morbidities have been health barriers for her since her 30’s. Since 2016, Susie has been a patient representative with the ASOI and an Irish representative with ECPO. This led to the start of creating a national patient led organization ICPO from 2018. She shares her experiences to help to improve the lives of those who live with obesity.
Susie is the Executive Director for ICPO.
Maura Murphy lives in Mayo.Despite a very sporty and active childhood Maura developed from having the experiences of living with overweight to then obesity. Maura is familiar with different treatments needed for obesity understanding weight regain and the stigma that comes with it. She is the founder of a Dublin patient support group in 2011 which led her to become a patient advocate with the ASOI from 2018. With the high prevalence of obesity Maura was keen to learn and raise awareness of obesity knowing her own family and friends are directly affected.
Maura is the Secretary of ICPO.
Eoin O’Connell lives in Limerick. Losing his brother at a very young age was a driving force to Eoins struggle with seeking comfort through food and alcohol. No stranger to health issues like hernia and gallbladder Eoin sought treatment with the Galway Weight Service. Sharing his experiences with local television and newspapers, Eoin is keen to address stigma with the public. He was one of the first patients to volunteer to help form our national patient organisation and was a speaker at our first conference for European Obesity Day in the Dublin Convention Centre in 2019.
Eoin is a committee member of ICPO.
Bernadette Keenan lives in Wexford. Growing up in a household with the stark contrast of living with excess weight from age 3, with a brother who was under-weight it was clear this was a complex issue. Having tried numerous treatments over the years, it was through patient support groups that Bernadette began advocating for more understanding of this chronic disease. Bernadette has a daughter who now sees similar issues, and as part of being a prominent ICPO advocate Bernadette is passionate to improve childhood obesity.
Bernadette is a committee member of ICPO.
Mary Frances White lives in Dublin. After becoming aware of weight & body difference after being put on a diet for her communion dress began a life of diets with the vicious circle of depression about her size, looking for self-soothing through eating and the following guilt. MF believes that she had to work twice as hard as the others just to prove she could do her job, due to comments made about her weight. People believe when the weight comes off troubles will go away. MF still can have issues with how she looks, will still worry about her job, but now colleagues complain she does too much work. As an advocate MF hopes to raise awareness how weight does not define a person.
MF is a committee member of ICPO.
Ben Whelan lives in Dublin and has lived with overweight or obesity as long as he can remember. In his 20’s was diagnosed with Spondylosis and later in life diagnosed with osteoarthritis bilaterally in hips, knees and ankles. Tolerating pain for years, finally a scan showed problems with vertebrae and multiple discs along with a trapped sciatic nerve. Throughout the years Ben was told by consultants that losing weight would solve the problem, only to be told years later after losing weight that ” the damage has already been done”. Ben firmly believes healthcare professionals need to engage and listen to their patients and look beyond their weight.
Ben is ICPO treasurer and sits on the Board of Directors of ICPO.
Teena Gates live is Dublin. After losing weight and writing a successful book of her journey and active lifestyle, Teena then became a full-time carer for her elderly father. Following this the reality of weight regain became real. Covid-19 then took away the one respite Teena had of sea swimming as lockdown restricted travel. Teena shares her knowledge of the media to help the ICPO team to share their voices in the best way possible.
Teena is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of ICPO.
Diane Charleton lives in Galway. Diane has lived with obesity her entire life. Diane has spent a lot of money through the years in pursuit of various diets in the hope of relieving her excess weight. Having initially lost significant amounts of weight, regain would follow. Diane often felt a failure as a result of this weight regain and this in turn led to low self-esteem. Diane no longer feels this way and now knows that she lives with a chronic relapsing disease and it’s not her fault. Despite living with excess weight, she lives a busy, happy and fulfilled life. Diane believes the support, information and resources that are available through ICPO are invaluable in living with this disease.
Diane is a committee member of ICPO.
Linda Smyth lives in Co. Kildare. She is a keen walker, hiker, loves to swim and leisure cycling. She likes to travel and learn about other cultures. Linda is keen to help support and improve the lives of those who struggle with weight and obesity. She believes that support is vital for everyone, and the more people have someone else to turn to outside of their usual circle of family and friends, the better for them to learn how to cope with what they face on a daily basis.
Linda sits on the Board of Directors for ICPO.
Deirdre Murphy lives in Dublin. With changing hormones during her teen years Deirdre found PCOS a factor for her increasing weight despite being very active. From 16 was the start of her dieting journey where she would lose weight and put it back on again, plus more. Since treatment Deirdre is off her sleep apnoea machine and most importantly despite fertility issues, had another baby which would not have happened without losing the weight. Through advocating with ICPO she wants to help other people find the right help and support in managing their obesity.
Deirdre is a co-treasurer and committee member for ICPO.
Catherine O’Sullivan lives in Wexford. Catherine was very active when young, swimming and walking a lot for her job. When injuring her knee, she continued to work but it resulted in her needing a knee replacement. She was refused a knee replacement for her other knee until she lost weight, which led to early retirement. Catherine advocates to raise awareness about stigma in the healthcare setting. She finds the online support groups and meetings an important place where members can share and understand they are not alone, like an extended family.
Catherine is a committee member for ICPO.