Monday 24 June 2019

'30 years to the day that I sang for Ireland in Eurovision, I was diagnosed with MND' - Former contestant who competed against Celine Dion

Roy Taylor
Roy Taylor
Roy Taylor

Áine Kenny

Roy Taylor, who represented Ireland in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease last year. Next month is National Awareness Month for Motor Neurone Disease, and Mr Taylor says he would love to speak to the Minister for Health Simon Harris about the disease.

“83pc of The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association’s income comes from fundraising events. I’d love to meet Simon Harris, not to berate him, but to discuss some ideas, to get and give advice... and it won’t cost him any money, unlike the children’s hospital,” Mr Taylor jokes. 

The musician was diagnosed with MND a little over a year ago. Ironically, it was about 30 years to the day that he competed in Eurovision. “I was in complete and utter shock. When the doctor told me, it was like a scene in a movie where a bomb goes off. A force comes over you, you are pinned to the wall, and everything is inaudible.” 

“It took a month for the news to properly sink in. I wasn’t sleeping well; I was waking up and thinking it had to be a dream.” 

“After I got my diagnosis I retired from work. Luckily, my condition is not very progressive. I do have trouble breathing and walking. In a race with a 95 year old I’d come last.” 

Sadly, the bassist was forced to give up playing his beloved guitar last October, due to issues with his hands. “It’s like if your hands were in a bucket of ice cold water for a while, then you try to use them. My son plays bass in our band now.” 

However, Mr Taylor says after the initial shock, he has remained positive. “You can either roll up in a ball or roll up your sleeves. If your body is telling you ‘I don’t feel great’, your mind is affected. But you just have to stay positive.” 

Mr Taylor’s family have also been incredibly supportive. “My wife is amazing. Two years ago, she lost her brother to MND. When she rang me to tell me his diagnosis, I had no clue what motor neurone Disease was, I thought it was something to do with cars. This is why we need to raise funds and awareness.”

Mr Taylor says time on Eurovision was “simply amazing” and Jump the Gun, his band, came in eighth overall. He even befriended a future celebrity. “There was a young girl representing Switzerland. I was having problems with my voice, and she used to come over to me and ask how I was getting on. She was so genuine and lovely. She went on to win that year…. and her name was Celine Dion.” 

In June, the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association’s fundraiser will be ‘Drink Tea for MND’. Mr Taylor says that he wants the fundraiser to be enjoyable. “We can have tea, cakes, and laughs with friends, even a biscuit dunking competition.”

“While this disease is serious and devastating, I don’t want to depress people… I firmly believe MND can be beaten. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.” 

To organise your own Drink Tea for MND event around 21 June, all you have to do is visit imnda.ie to get a free fundraising tea pack, which is supported by Supervalu. Alternatively, you can text MND to 50300 and donate €2.

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