Rose of Tralee contestant Jane Harrison tries to say yes to all life experiences now because she put off living for so long.
The Wicklow Rose, 26, lost 11 stone in recent years — she once weighed over 22 stone, but she had to regain lost confidence.
“When I was 21 I hit an all-time low and decided to get weight loss surgery. It was no way to live at all — I was just surviving more than living. That is why I say yes to all experiences now because I put off living for so long, “ she said yesterday.
Jane got a gastric band when she was 21 years old: “I am not pro or anti-weightloss surgery. Everyone is different, but it set me on the right path. I had to change my ways. Overeating was my escape mechanism, and it just was not enough.”
She recalls her lowest point: “I went out with my friends to a night club and the taunting was really bad that night. I could hear people remarking on my weight, and I was sweating as I walked because I was so heavy.
“I got home and cried my eyes out as my mum cooked me carbonara — the answer was at the bottom of the bowl!
“My mum and I decided to do something. She had helped me go on various fad diets throughout my teens, but we both knew that some serious steps had to be taken.”
Jane, who works in sales and promotion for a radio station, had weight loss surgery in Belgium in February 2011: “With the gastric band, I eat smaller portions, and I eat more frequently. I would never sit down and eat a pizza or big bowl of pasta now. I now know what kind of foods suit me.”
However, once she reached her goal weight her confidence and belief in herself were the same as when she weighed more than 22 stone: “It has taken me four years to be content in myself.”
Jane said the Rose of Tralee gave her a great boost.
“I am meeting these strong, independent women, and it just pushes you into the next life stage.”
Cork Rose Denise Collins, 26, is a science and maths teacher at Davis College, Mallow, Co Cork, and is hoping to set her hand alight as her party piece with RTÉ’s Dáithí Ó Sé in Tralee, Co Kerry, next week.
“Because I am a science teacher, I want to bring a bit of science to the stage so I am going to be putting my hand on fire.”
Asked how she was going to set herself alight, Denise, from Knocknagree on the Cork/Kerry border was giving nothing away.
“I don’t want to tell any science teachers’ secrets. Nobody gets hurt in the process.”
Denise is hoping that Dáithí will be a willing assistant.
“I am going to ask Dáithí to join in. It will be up to him, but I will give him plenty of stick if he doesn’t!”
The festival celebrates 57 years this year, with the 65 hopeful Roses reduced to 32 when the event is broadcast live from the Festival Dome in Tralee on Monday and Tuesday night on RTÉ One.
This year’s festival has been extended from five to seven days. It starts today with the 65 Roses. These qualifying selections today and tomorrow will not be televised.
Dáithí said it would be his 7th year to present the Rose of Tralee live on television.
“It just shows when you bring an unbelievable amount of unprofessionalism to a gig that they keep giving it to you over and over again,” he joked.
“It is an easy gig. You walk out on stage. Everyone is in good form and you play to the crowd.”
Dáithí, who hosts RTÉ’s afternoon lifestyle show, Today with Maura Derrane, said he would do the Rose of Tralee for as long as he was allowed.
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