Actress and comedienne Norma Sheahan and her family have won the first celebrity special episode of RTE’s Ireland’s Fittest Family, with Cork ARC Cancer Support House to receive Team Sheahan’s €10,000 prize.
Norma and her family (Leonard O’Sullivan, Paula Cogan and the series’ youngest ever contestant, Sheena Buckley) won out against 2FM broadcaster Keith Walsh, singers Sean and Conor Price and Dancing with the Stars judge Brian Redmond in the battle for €10,000 in aid of their chosen charity and a chance to call themselves the winners of Ireland’s Fittest Family – Celebrity Special 2019.
The celebs and their family teams were put through their paces in Dublin Docks with the support of coaches Donncha O’Callaghan, Anna Geary, Derval O’Rourke and Davy Fitzgerald.
Donncha coached actress and star of Bridget and Eamon, Norma Sheahan and her family. For Sheahan, her first port of call was prepping for Hanging Tough, the notorious challenge that separates the wheat from the chaff.
Speaking to RTÉ Lifestyle, she said she and her teammates hanged from "monkey-bars in the playground" a few times to get to grips with it, so to speak.
"Other than that we did our own thing", she says, with her sister Paula squeezing in runs between balancing work and motherhood while Norma kept up her yoga and swimming. "Luckily my cousin Leonard was prepping for an Iron-Man so he was training like crazy between work and family commitments." Her 14-year-old niece completes the team, as the youngest contestant to compete.
As for why she signed up, she figures she - like the rest of the contestants on the show - runs off the adrenaline that live performances offers. "It's for charity, so well worth taking the risk", she adds.
"Also I'm a YES person who loves a thrill. I dive into situations without weighing up the danger or consequences.”
She's tried her hand at sky-diving, riding thoroughbreds on her father's farm and bungee jumped, not to mention the challenge of breastfeeding twins and performing live in front of audiences, so it's safe to say that fitness is a key part of her routine. She says it is vital for her for two reasons: it "clears [her mind] of clutter" and it "delays the onset of aches and pains, through flexibility and core strength".
Back home in Whitechurch Co. Cork, the entire community rallied around on New Year’s Eve to watch the episide live with Team Sheahan, and sat through every nail biting twist and turn as it became apparent that Team Sheahan would have victory in the end.
Cork ARC would like to thank Norma and her family for supporting Cork ARC. The awareness and funds Norma’s win has generated for Cork ARC will help many more families affected by cancer make that trip to one of our centres or phone us for support.
Presented by Kathryn Thomas, the episode aired on New Year’s Eve and is available now on the RTE Player.