Introducing our new Operations Manager, Orla McIntyre
A bit about me….
My name is Orla McIntyre and I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to take on the role of Operations Manager with Michaela Foundation.
I am the eldest of four children, two sisters and a brother, and grew up in the small village of Loughgiel, nestled in the beautiful countryside of North Antrim. Being from Loughgiel, I was steeped in the local heritage of playing camogie and Irish dancing from a very young age. As our wonderful Canon Donnelly once put it, “there are two religions in Loughgiel…Catholicism and Hurling!” I have so many fond memories of learning how to play Camogie in my back garden with my Mum and Dad and my many aunts and uncles, waiting with anticipation until I was old enough to go and play for our beloved Loughgiel Shamrocks. For many years I have played Camogie alongside the girls I grew up with, winning County and Ulster championships, forging strong bonds and relationships that only being part of the GAA can and I couldn’t be prouder of our Club and community and everything it stands for.
I have also been a member of the Loughgiel School of Irish Dance for over 25 years where we are very much a family in every sense of the word. I have so much respect for each and every one of the girls that I dance with as it is obvious to see with every competition the passion they have for dance, which has been instilled in all of us by our three unparalleled dance teachers. I have won solo Ulster and World titles in Irish dancing but it is always the hard-fought titles that we have garnered as a team throughout the years that mean so much more!
Career to date & Volunteering
My fantastic experience with my teachers at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Loughgiel and then in turn at St. Louis Grammar, Ballymena inspired me to follow a career in teaching. I loved school and I was involved in everything the school could throw at me, whether that was sports teams, school musicals or young enterprise groups. My teachers encouraged me in all aspects of school life and gave me the self-belief that I could do well in anything I put my hand to with hard work. This experience motivated me to try and help other children have the same experience that I had. With my love of sports, I decided to pursue a career in PE teaching. I felt that it was a subject that young people in particular can struggle with and can often feel very vulnerable in and I wanted to try to instil a little self-confidence and help them realise that you don’t have to excel in all aspects of the subject, as long as you are putting in your best effort. I had the pleasure of returning to St. Louis Grammar for two years as a PE teacher and then I spent a wonderful four years in St. Mary’s College, Derry. Both schools and my remarkable colleagues taught me that hard-work, resilience, patience, co-operation and a little humility can take you everywhere in life and really cemented my passion for helping young people to develop their self-confidence.
It’s hard to believe that my journey with Michaela Foundation started almost five years ago. I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Annabelle McAreavey at a few events and we hit it off! I was captivated as she talked about Michaela Foundation and it’s ethos of empowering young people to celebrate their own talents and be comfortable in their own skin. It definitely struck a chord with me as it was something that I was passionate about within my own career of teaching. She asked me to come along to the last day of the Newry summer camp to see what it was all about. I walked through the door and instantly was struck by the infectious atmosphere. Everywhere I looked there were volunteers and Campettes, singing, dancing, playing games and the laughter was almost deafening! Talking to Anne and the other volunteers that day and hearing them talk so passionately about all the activities they had been doing that week, but more importantly about how they had watched the Campettes and other volunteers grow to shine. It was at that moment I fell in love with Michaela Foundation and knew it was something I had to be a part of! Anne asked me to take on the role of Head Camp Co-Ordinator at the newly-agreed Antrim camp the following year in St. Mary’s University College, Belfast. I was honoured to be at the helm of the Antrim camp for three years and again, privileged to run the Derry City camp as well for three years. For me, volunteering with Michaela Foundation felt like coming home. By helping others to bring the best out in themselves in turn, helped me to realise my own potential. I have met the most motivating, selfless, remarkable people through volunteering and each of them have inspired me to do and be better.
What I want to achieve
The opportunity to work for a Foundation that I am so passionate about does not appear very often and I gave it my full consideration. I feel so privileged to have been offered this role and I see this as enabling me to spend my career passing this on to many other people and in doing so, I think this will be a very personal and rewarding role. I am looking forward to working on the continual success of our summer camp programme, in conjunction with established camps and introducing new venues as the years progress, training more volunteers and reaching even more campettes. Having discussed new and exciting projects with John McAreavey, our Chairperson, such as Ambassador programmes, school retreats, more ‘Wellbeing Weeks’ in local universities, colleges and schools, and new collaborations with other businesses and charities, I am eager to get started! I am fully aware of the ever-changing world our young people live in, from technology advances, to increased social media presence, to the constant pressure and ambiguous messages they receive from everyone around them on how to look, behave and act. However I believe that Michaela Foundation has the ability to adapt to these constant variations and we will help to support our young people through this stage of their lives and help them find their feet. It is my goal to bring the ethos and values of Michaela Foundation to a wider audience throughout Ireland and beyond and to help them realise that we must stand up for each other and there are no limits to what they can accomplish.