Rob O’Brien

Administration and Quality Compliance at the Rehab Recycle facility in Cork.

“I worked for nearly 30 years in the hospitality industry.  I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2001. The tumour was successfully removed but I lost the hearing in my left ear and the sight in my left eye was also impaired. I was in hospital for about eight weeks. I had to learn to how to walk and talk again. I remember seeing a TV programme about the Marathon de Sables, a 151-mile endurance race across the Sahara Desert.  I told my brother that if I got out of here I’d do it, and I did do it in 2005”. I completed the Marathon des Sables, and with local support from the townspeople  of Cobh Co Cork we managed to raise over €10,000 in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

Rob returned to work in the hospitality industry but quickly realised that it no longer suited him. So at 40 years old, it was time for a career change. “I always wanted an office job so I signed up for the IT and Office Management course in National Learning Network, which is part of Rehab. I literally didn’t know how to turn on a computer on the first day but over the two years I learned so much. It was an easy learning environment for me and the positive attitude of the instructors was fantastic. The work experience helped me to feel ready to get a job. When I finished the course my instructor encouraged me to apply for a vacancy that had come up in Rehab Recycle and here I still am seven years later! My day-to-day job involves dealing with customer and sales queries, logging and updating our quality control to ensure we keep up to the ISO standard and compiling schedules for jobs.

“My sight and hearing on the left side aren’t very good but I can still do my job – I’m in control of my disability. Here there are no concessions, in a nice way. I’m given the responsibility to go and do my work but there is help if I need it. There is a great network of support here and we all pull together and that’s really important.

"I continue to run marathons, (including Dublin, Cork, New York , Dingle, Sahara desert, Atacama desert, Gobi desert) with a different charity benefitting from each event. Running & training are hobbies I enjoy , so if I can maintain this to some degree in the future – I’ll be grateful, for sure!! Running is also a great, mind & body experience as well , and has huge health benefits in this regard.

“The last ten years has been a learning curve. I never had a disability but now I do. But thanks to Rehab I’ve re-trained and re-built my confidence and I haven’t looked back.”

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