Ardboe woman’s life-changing experience as Secret Millionaire
AN ARDBOE woman - who runs a successful pharmacy chain across five counties while juggling the demands of motherhood - is the subject of a life-changing RTE reality programme tonight, Monday.
Ramona Nicholas, nee Wylie, is a past pupil of Dungannon grammar school, St Patrick’s Academy, and is currently Joint Managing Director of the Cara chain of pharmacies, operating 14 stores in total in Fermanagh, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan.
Speaking to the Tyrone Times prior to the show’s airing tonight at 9.35pm on RTE 1, Ramona hopes friends and family from her home area will tune in to find out all about her experience on The Secret Millionaire.
Ramona, who now lives in Donegal with her husband and three year-old son, bravely agreed to be part of the show, which searches for genuine local Irish charities, bringing them face to face with some of the country’s most pressing problems including suicide, poverty, drugs and disability. Describing how the filming of the show was shrouded in secrecy from the outset, Ramona told the Times how she was dropped off at a bus stop in Bundoran with an envelope containing 94 Euros and an address in Galway on the first morning of the shoot.
Tonight’s programme will see Ramona encountering and dealing with a host of social problems on a first hand basis.
Those who were helped by her were told that she was just a TV researcher until the very final day when she revealed her true reason for visiting them.
Ramona is particularly keen to stress that she is far from being a ‘millionaire’, in spite of the programme’s title, saying: “I am a little squeamish about the title and being labelled as a ‘millionaire’ - it really doesn’t sit well with me. “My husband and I have worked hard to build up our pharmacy chain, at times 16/17 hours a day and employ over 100 staff. In the present climate with all the associated costs it’s hard to reach that status but maybe someday we will. “To me it is much more important to have a happy family life surrounded by some great friends - no amount of money will ever buy this.”
The former Ardboe woman, who travels home frequently to visit family and friends, lists the most significant part of the Secret Millionaire experience as being given the opportunity to meet a wide variety of charities and social causes, revealing how she “connected immediately” with a group of ladies who were setting up a support network for parents and others affected by Autism.
She continues: “This is featured highly on the programme as I spent a day out with a group of over 200 families of Autistic children. It was an eye opener for me, I knew nothing about the disability and the wide range of levels within the Spectrum.
“This was a huge learning curve for me. I also visited a rehabilitation centre, where I bonded with one particular person, and my whole experience there was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was very conscious that I made the correct decisions in that I wanted to donate to those who wanted to help themselves, and who I knew myself I would have a long term connection with. Domestic Violence as well as an exercise based charity to help those who are recovering from mental illnesses or drug addiction.
“The show had a profound effect on my life and I look forward to travelling back to Galway at the end of the month with my husband Canice to relive the journey of one of the best experiences of my life and to meet those very important people with whom I connected with.”
Don’t forget to tune into RTE 1 tonight at 9.35pm to see Ramona’s very personal journey in full.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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