Handicap girl aware only of his generosity
THE FAMILY of a little girl born without any arms or legs, for whom actor Oliver Reed helped raise more than £800,000, yesterday paid tribute to the dead star.
Reed started the appeal which raised the £90,000 to kickstart the fund-raising campaign to help three-years-old Joanne O'Riordan, who suffers from Total Amelia.
The generous actor, who lived in Churchtown, north Cork, fronted a 12-hour Radiothon on the local County Sound radio station for little Joanne, from Derrinagree near Millstreet.
Yesterday, Joanne's grateful parents, Joe and Anne spoke of their sadness at the news of their benefactor's sudden death, in a bar in Malta on Sunday, from a suspected heart attack.
``Joanne's lost a great friend he will always be in our prayers we met him about a half a dozen times and Joanne took to him from the first; he was very affectionate towards her.
``Since then, she's always called him a nice man whenever he came up in conversation I think they would have kept up that friendship over the years if he'd lived longer,'' said Joe.
Reed, who revelled in his hellraising image, was the epitome of gentleness as gave tiny Joanne a big bear hug when the posed for photographers to launch the appeal back in 1997.
According to Joe, they were stunned when they heard the news of Ollie's death. ``We were shocked and upset when we heard the news on Sunday night he always seemed so full of life,'' he said.
Joanne's mum, Anne, said she felt a lump rise up in her throat when she heard the news of the death, during a break from filming. ``I couldn't believe it when I heard you'd have to see the way Joanne took to him to realise how kind he was it was something special,'' revealed Anne.
Joe revealed that the O'Riordans never paid much heed to the many newspaper reports of Ollie's hell-raising exploits, but thought of him as a good-hearted friend.
``We never paid any attention to those we certainly never saw anything like that from him we knew a gentle and caring man and that's how we'll always remember him,'' declared Joe sadly.