Friday 20 January 2017

Anne Doyle on her RTE departure: 'I live a less stressful life and I simply have less pressures'

National treasure Anne Doyle is making some lifestyle changes, now that she is in her sixties, including checking her pulse rate to ensure that her ticker is working

Published 08/08/2016 | 02:30

Anne Doyle walks everywhere because she never learned to drive. Photo: Mark Condren
Anne Doyle walks everywhere because she never learned to drive. Photo: Mark Condren

Former RTE newsreader Anne Doyle is posing for photos on a sunny morning in St Stephen's Green. Pedestrians take a second look while passing her by and once they have determined that they are indeed looking at the woman who once read the news in their living room, they immediately smile widely.

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They continue to smile as they walk away - and, in fact, mirror Anne's own smile, which is wide, warm and radiant. The biggest smile of all comes from a young man in his early twenties, who comes over and asks Anne to pose for a selfie with him. He shakes her hand and gushes about how lovely it is to meet her.

I'm worried that we'll be here all day, so I determinedly move this national treasure in the direction of the Westbury Hotel, where we settle down over coffee to have a chat about Anne's new health campaign.

She is ambassador for the new Pulse Check campaign, which aims to get us all checking our pulse as part of our daily routine.

Anne Doyle at home in Leeson Street. Photo: Tony Gavin
Anne Doyle at home in Leeson Street. Photo: Tony Gavin

"Research at the Mater Private National Arrhythmia Service found that one in three people in Ireland did not know how to check their pulse," Anne tells me.

"I would have been one of those one in three. I would have had a vague idea what my pulse rate should be but not a firm idea. I thought of it in the way many people do. You check your pulse and if there's a pulse you're alive and if there's not, then you're not."

Anne is very much alive, looks a picture of fitness and health and has a tan which, she tells me, is from sitting outside at her home on Leeson Street Lower.

She is elegantly dressed in black and white, and her accessories, including her Prada bag, are on-trend yet refined.

She hasn't joined a gym, mind.

"I'm a very reflective person and I think about it a lot, for about 40 years now," Anne laughs.

Happy together: Anne Doyle and her partner Dan McGrattan have been together for over a decade.
Happy together: Anne Doyle and her partner Dan McGrattan have been together for over a decade.

She does walk everywhere and in a way she credits this for her youthfulness.

"I walk and that's because I never learned to drive," Anne says. "It was never on my agenda to drive. I simply never had any interest."

Things not being on Anne's agenda come up again and again in our conversation. But one thing is for certain, this former RTE poster girl is making some changes in her life, now that she is aged 64.

"I eat more healthily than I used to," Anne admits. "That's probably to do with being retired. The working environment, especially unusual hours, long hours, can interfere with that.

"At this age I drink less. I live a less stressful life. I simply have less pressures. I think some people by nature are just more anxious than others. I think I'm an anxious person," she says, admitting that at times she was terrified entering the news studio at RTE to do her job, especially around Budget Day.

Another change Anne is making is that she checks her pulse daily. And wearing her hat as ambassador for Pulse Check campaign, she explains: "An irregular heartbeat is a factor in about 30pc of strokes. Which is a danger to people in my age group. It is a danger in any age group, in fact.

Anne Doyle enjoying Ladies' Day at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS, Dublin.
Pic:Mark Condren
Anne Doyle enjoying Ladies' Day at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS, Dublin. Pic:Mark Condren

"Around 2,000 people die a year from strokes in Ireland. That's a big figure. There comes a time in your life when you know several people who have suffered a stroke and even for those who have survived it, it is a dreadful experience," Anne says. "Checking your pulse as a preventative measure is a no-brainer."

It makes total sense, of course, and, as Anne says, "it's quick, easy and free."

What wasn't on Anne's agenda, she says, was getting married and having children, by which I understand she means that she never went out looking for these things.

She is happy in her sixties, she says, and is heading off soon to Majorca on holidays with her partner, restaurateur Dan McGrattan, whom she has been with for about 12 years.

"Sometimes, you can look at your life and think I didn't achieve very much," Anne says. "But it's only a blink of the camel's eye isn't it?" she says.

And laughs again.

Suggesting that her heart is very much in the right place and is beating away nicely.

More information on how to check your pulse is available on www.materprivate.ie.

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