Dean ''Mr Yipadee'' O'Brien returns to his former St Mary's School this week to play for pupils (from left) Georgia Creeby (5), Ruby Scott (5), Johanna McNeill (7), Sam Hyde (6), Annalyse Graham (5, obscured), Samantha Diack (5, obscured), Jack O'Neill (8, obscured), Jackson Parata (5, obscured), Oliver McFelin (5), Hunter Tucker (6, partly obscured), Ella Kean (5), Gianni Urban (5) and Maya Still (5). Photo by Craig Baxter.
The power of positive thought has made a former Mosgiel man a
Dean O'Brien has been winning hearts around the world with
his ''Mr Yipadee'' character, which was developed to promote
positive thinking and self-belief in children.
But it only happened with a lot of positive thinking and
self-belief of his own.
''I lost my job in June last year at a Manchester radio
station and it was really scary, because my daughter, Evolet,
was only 6 months old at the time,'' Mr O'Brien said this
He developed his Mr Yipadee character with his wife, Lani,
and produced an album of songs and games to make children
feel good about themselves, Mr Yipadee - Yes I Can
''Kids absorb stuff and if you surround them with goodness
they get the best foundation in life,'' he said.
''But, by Christmas, we had spent all our money, about 20,000
[$NZ38,000], and I was getting really scared. I had to borrow
money from my parents so we could eat.''
Then came fan mail from Men are from Mars, Women are from
Venus author John Gray.
''I couldn't sleep for two days after I got that,'' Mr
O'Brien recalled. A month later, the album topped the United
Kingdom iTunes children's chart.
''I couldn't sleep for another two days after that.''
Within weeks he was headlining the children's concert at the
Glastonbury Music Festival.
''That was incredible. There was the Rolling Stones and all
these amazing bands playing and here was little old Mr
Mr O'Brien (35) grew up in Mosgiel, attending St Mary's
School and Taieri High School, and was back from Preston,
England, visiting his parents, Brian and Maxine, this week
for the first time since his Wanaka wedding to Lani in
He was also given a rock star's welcome at St Mary's School.
''It really is the best job in the world. I think what Mr
Yipadee shows is that if you put good stuff out there you get
good stuff back. It can be a bit scary sometimes, but you
have to follow your heart,'' he said.
''But the best thing is my daughter's going to think I'm cool
until she's at least 6 and a-half. After 7 they start
throwing things at me, which isn't so cool.''
Mr Yipadee is performing with Wonky Donkey author
Craig Smith next week at Remarkables Primary School in
Queenstown, Longford Intermediate in Gore, Kaikorai Valley
College and Oamaru North School.