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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: -1°C
Charlie Bird Charlie with his dog Tiger in Mayo.
VOICES
Charlie Bird 'I am so thankful to the people who raised money and will climb with me today'
The broadcaster who is battling motor neurone disease looks forward to today’s climb of Croagh Patrick, with €1 million already raised.

I WRITE THIS not long after I’ve met the children from Scoil Phadraig in Westport who sang a number of songs to support our climb in Mayo on Friday.

The hairs on the back of my neck are still standing from the impact the children and the supporters have had on me.

I am also very excited about today’s charity climb up Croagh Patrick and the fact that we have now exceeded the €1 million euro mark for the two great charities, Pieta House and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

I am energised and looking forward to heading up to the summit of Croagh Patrick today with some of my close friends and family. This has been quite a journey for me and I cannot thank enough the people of Ireland and across many other parts of the world for stepping out and climbing with me.

Turning shock into action

The whole experience has been beyond belief and I would like to use this opportunity to thank everybody for their kindness and support and for putting their hand of friendship out.

When I was diagnosed with this terminal illness, Motor Neurone Disease, back in October, I was utterly devastated. It was an enormous shock to myself, my friends and my family.

For a long time, it took a great deal of effort to process and come to terms with the fact that I haven’t got long left on this earth.

I did reach a turning point and I came to the decision that I wanted to use whatever time is left in my life and body as a force for good in this world.

With the support of my wife Claire, my family and my friends, I decided to raise money for the two charities, both of which are very close to my heart.

Going the distance

I have always been a keen walker. Throughout my life, I have enjoyed the experience of going out on expeditions whether it be to the North Pole or climbing the local hills around my Wicklow home. So, it made perfect sense for me to climb the most iconic mountain in Ireland, Croagh Patrick, as the centrepiece for the fundraising climb.

Since my diagnosis, the MND has mainly affected my speech but I’ve been lucky to remain mobile and am confident today’s walk will be doable for me. It did require a bit of training in the last few weeks, but I’m feeling good.

With the support of Claire and our loved ones, we came together and developed the idea of Climb with Charlie, which we kicked off in early January. Since then, the campaign has been a tremendous success way beyond our wildest dreams.

The offers of support and the generosity and the friendship that has been shown to us by Irish people both here and around the world have been absolutely extraordinary. It has been the most inspiring journey of my life to organise and be part of the Climb with Charlie campaign.

All over the country, there are almost 200 separate fundraising climbs happening. Tens of thousands of people are taking part in walks and climbs all over the country and as far away as the US, Australia, South Africa and Spain.

The purpose of climbing Croagh Patrick as a fundraiser is to symbolise and show support to all those people in our society who have to climb such enormous physical and mental mountains every day to go about their lives.

There are so many people that face hardship, be it physically, as a result of an illness or accident, or mental as a result of poor mental health, dealing with trauma, or dealing with things like terminal illnesses. It doesn’t just affect those people, it affects their family, friends and loved ones as well.

So, as we prepare for Croagh Patrick today, these people are foremost in our thoughts and prayers. Over the course of the campaign, I have come to feel an external force guiding me far beyond my own physical capabilities. I would actually say it is a spiritual force, something greater than me, pushing me on to do this and to help other people.

The generosity that has been shown to me in the campaign so far is absolutely extraordinary. We have reached our target of €1 million before we reach the summit of the mountain. Over the course of the weekend and next week, I would love to see this surge further.

I cannot thank enough the people who have so generously donated and all those people who have gone the extra mile in setting up fundraising climbs and events all over the world to support the campaign. I wish you all well today on your climbs, and to those who cannot do the climb, we know you’re with us and we’ll be thinking of you.

Charlie’s climb has been supported by a host of Irish celebrities including Bono, Gabriel Byrne, Imelda May, Daniel O’Donnell and Damien Dempsey. Details can be found on climbwithcharlie.ie.

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