Yvonne Stratford from Virginia was given a heart-warming shoulder lift by her work colleagues at the Virginia Primary Care centre last Friday, when it was announced that her family will be featuring in the forthcoming ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ programme on RTÉ Television. The Occupational Therapist, together with her husband Patrick and sons Barry and Daniel, will put Cavan on the map with their fitness exploits on the programme. Their eldest son Craig will be offering lots of moral support along the way.PHOTO: SEAN MCMAHON

Virginia family vying to be Ireland’s Fittest

A Virginia woman got more than she bargained for when her work colleagues surprised her ahead of her appearance on Ireland's Fittest Family this Sunday.

Yvonne Stratford, who works as an occupational therapist in Virginia's health centre, was caught unaware when her friends hosted a party in their office, complete with t-shirts that were specially printed for the occasion.

"I got a bit of a surprise, I wasn’t expecting it at all," Yvonne told the Celt.

"I was working away and was called into a room where there were over 20 people all wearing specially made t-shirts cheering me on. I couldn’t believe it, it’s created a real buzz in the building."

Yvonne says appearing in the show was tough but an enjoyable experience.

"It was filmed in the summer. It’s nothing like I imagined it, it’s very tough and intense but it was a great bonding experience with my husband Patrick, as well as my sons Gary and Daniel who are 21-year-old twins. As a family we’re very active, doing lots of hiking, mountain running, and kayaking. We’ll take on any outdoor challenge."

Despite being very active, Yvonne found it very hard to prepare for the challenges.

"I don’t think anything gets you ready for it. Donncha O’Callaghan is our coach. He was very encouraging, and not afraid to shout at us if he felt we needed it, but one of the boys told him to do a bit of extra roaring. But he was very fun and witty and made the whole experience more enjoyable."

The Stratfords are vying for the coveted title at a prize of €15,000.

The action kicks off again this Sunday, November 19, at 6:30pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player as Davy’s Penny Taylor family from Meath, Donncha’s Stratford family from Cavan, Nina’s McNamara family from Roscommon, and Sonia’s Maher family from Offaly take on some brand-new challenges in Ireland’s Fittest Family!