Tuesday 23 April 2019

‘I won’t back down’ - radio presenter Gareth O'Callaghan leaving Classic Hits after being diagnosed with rare disease

Gareth O’Callaghan. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Gareth O’Callaghan. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Payu Tiwari

Radio presenter Gareth O’Callaghan is leaving Classic Hits in the coming weeks after being diagnosed with a very rare neurodegenerative disease.

In an email addressed to his colleagues today, Mr O’Callaghan revealed that he has been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a rare neurodegenerative disease that attacks and destroys the body’s central nervous system.

“Sadly it is incurable and progressive,” he said, speaking about the disease. However, quoting singer Tom Petty, he said: “I won’t back down. Time to do battle with this beast and fight it for as long as I can.”

The former RTE radio presenter said that before “this thing progresses any further,” he would like to finish up his radio career and make “happy memories for the future.”

“I want to concentrate on doing some of the things I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “And I want to make a few happy memories for the future.”

Mr O’Callaghan said that he is “blessed” to have a job he loves, and will miss it dearly: 

“I’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people along the way. I’ll leave the radio with lots of great memories, and I’ll keep talking about them hopefully for years to come.”

Andy Matthews, Programme Director at Classic Hits, said that Mr O’Callaghan has been a “star performer“ and will have their “thoughts and continued support.” 

The news of his illness and his sudden departure came out of nowhere to those at Classic Hits, with Mr Matthews describing it as a “shock” and hoping that Mr O’Callaghan will be able to present a few more programmes. 

“It is time to call it a day,” Mr O’Callaghan said. 

He said that he won’t be saying goodbye, because “there is no such thing.”:

“As the late great George Duke once sang in his song ‘Sweet Baby’, it’s never over, only set aside,” he said. “Now that’s a real classic hit.”

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