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Hazel Hartigan of Operation Transformation truly is an inspiration



Hazel Hartigan of Operation Transformation pictured above in the final.


Hazel Hartigan of Operation Transformation truly is an inspiration

By I Love Limerick Correspondent Tara Byrne




Hazel Hartigan of Operation

Hazel pictured in the early days and telling her sad story on TV

Pallaskenry local Hazel Hartigan finished her eight-week Operation Transformation plan, two stone lighter and a whole lot happier.

Viewers of the popular RTE show watched on as Hazel, 47, who is a full-time staff nurse at St John’s Hospital in Limerick city achieved her goal of losing two stone. In the past, Hazel had joined slimming clubs but her weight went up and down as she took her foot off the pedal and her weight crept back up again. “I’m very happy now. It’s a slow process, I will definitely be feeling fit and fab at 48,” she told presenter Kathryn Thomas.

Hazel was one of five leaders on RTE’s Operation Transformation, a health and fitness programme presented by Kathryn Thomas. The series finale revealed the total weight loss achieved by each of the five Operation Transformation leaders. Hazel’s personal trainer Karl Henry revealed that she lost 20 and a half inches from her waistline which is the biggest inch loss of any leader. Viewers were delighted for Hazel’s huge weight loss.

Before the final took place, the staff at St. John’s Hospital let its feet do the talking to declare their pride in their colleague Hazel by taking on the Jerusalema social media challenge in snow, sunshine, and on the corridors over the course of 10 days honour of her courage and commitment as one of the ‘Leaders’ of this year’s RTE Operation Transformation show.

Hazel received great support from her husband Richard and two children, Tommy, 20 and Grace, 14. Proud son Tommy who stood at the end of the catwalk with his family to see his mum unveil her new look described her as an “inspiration”.


Hazel married her husband Richard in 1999 after six years of dating and welcomed her first child, Tommy, in 2000, and then welcomed twin girls- Chloe and Niamh. Sadly, Niamh was stillborn and Chloe was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, global development delay, and chronic lung disease. Hazel soon became Chloe’s full-time carer. In 2006, Richard and Hazel’s fourth child, Grace was born. Just over a year later Chloe, then just five years old, sadly passed away.

Hazel always dreamed of becoming a nurse, having worked as a cleaner and catering attendant in University of Limerick Hospital from 1996 to 2018. Seven years after her daughter Chloe passed away, witnessing the incredible work of healthcare staff in Irish hospitals, and after years of telling Richard she wanted to do nursing, she finally took the big step at 42 to return to education and started her nursing studies.

Hazel has been hailed as a ‘warrior’ after opening up about the trauma of losing two children and the effect it has had on her relationship with her third daughter Grace. Hazel admitted that when she went back to college to do nursing, she felt as though she had neglected her youngest daughter Grace, which really upset her. She said, “She’s my only daughter now and I want a close relationship with her.”

The last twelve months have been an eventful time for Hazel to say the least, with the full-time nurse contracting COVID-19 in April 2020. She had to self-isolate at her Pallaskenry home until her symptoms had cleared, making sure her family didn’t catch it. Viewers were impressed with Hazel’s resilience, as she spoke about the challenge of having to self-isolate from her family after contracting COVID-19 in April.

Floods of tweets poured in congratulating Hazel on her weight loss journey:

“Hazel Hartigan #OperationTransformation is just the most beautiful person. She’s so honest and helping so many people and while working full time as a nurse she bossed this completely. Congrats to the most inspirational woman #TeamHazel,” said one supporter on Twitter.

Another suggests, “Limerick Person of the Year – Hazel Hartigan #OperationTransformation. Wonderful person.”

I Love Limerick would like to congratulate Hazel on her amazing results!

For more info about Operation Transformation go HERE 

For more stories about Hazel go HERE 

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.