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climb with charlie

'I have found peace': Charlie Bird launches charity Croagh Patrick climb

The veteran broadcaster, who was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, said the support of the public “has lifted me like nothing else”.

VETERAN BROADCASTER CHARLIE Bird has said that an outpouring of support from the public has “lifted me like nothing else” following his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease. 

Appearing on RTÉ’s Late Late Show, he spoke of his plan to climb Co Mayo’s Croagh Patrick on 2 April to raise money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta House.

He will be joined by a number of well-known figures on the climb, called ‘Climb with Charlie’. Former president Mary McAleese, retired GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Davy Fitzgerald sent messages of support to Bird during the show.

Bird last appeared on the Late Late Show in December when he spoke about his diagnosis and how he was dealing with the disease.

Speaking last night, he said the prospect of the climb, called ‘Climb with Charlie’, has “awakened something in me”.

“When I was here the last time, I was crying a lot. I’m not crying anymore. The support of the public around the country has lifted me like nothing else,” he said.

He said he had been receiving letters “out the door, mass cards everything. It has been unbelievable, and in a way Ryan, it has lifted me even spiritually if you understand.”

I have found peace. Whatever has happened to me in the past few weeks – in my head and in my heart – I don’t know but when you meet people, they lift you.

“I’m so looking forward to climbing Croagh Patrick. People have been climbing Croagh Patrick for 1,500 years and I now realise for me, it may be the end of the journey for me. In one sense – I mean this – I’m not as afraid now as I was when I first got my diagnosis.”

Numbers for the climb will be limited on the day, but Bird encouraged everybody to “climb your own mountain, your own hill and every ha’penny raised goes to the two charities, and they’re close to my heart.”

Baz Ashmawy, Dermot Bannon and Tommie Gorman will also be taking part in the climb and lent their support to the initiative during the broadcast.

Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan, who was due to appear in the studio but was too ill to attend, sent a pre-recorded message to the show praising Bird.

“I hope you get a huge amount of support after your appearance tonight for your climb in April and please God, all going well, I’ll be there with you,” she said.

Bird spoke of meeting Phelan recently, saying it was “as if I’d known her all my life” and calling her “an amazing woman”. 

“It was like meeting an old friend. A remarkable and amazing woman,” he said.

Bird spoke about how he it was important to him to light a candle in the church at the top of the mountain.

“When I get up into the church, I’m going to light a candle for everybody who has a terminal illness, for everybody in this country who has gone through the pandemic, for everybody who has gone through a dark place. We have to reach out to everybody.” 

Bird said it was important to raise money for the motor neurone charity in order to save lives.

We need to raise money for them to try and save somebody’s life maybe in two or three years. It may not save mine, it won’t, but we need the research and the work to try and save other people.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) affects the brain and nerves, causing the muscles to weaken and waste over a period of time. There is no known cure, though symptoms can be managed.

Details of the climb can be found on climbwithcharlie.ie.

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