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Charlie Bird says he is facing his ‘biggest challenge yet’ as his health gets worse and he struggles to eat


Charlie Bird at the base of Croagh Patrick in April. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Charlie Bird at the base of Croagh Patrick in April. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Charlie Bird at the base of Croagh Patrick in April. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Former RTÉ broadcaster Charlie Bird said he is facing his “biggest challenge yet” as his health is getting worse.

Last year Mr Bird (72) revealed that he was living with motor neurone disease and said at the time that he cried “every single day” since his diagnosis.

On April 2, Mr Bird reached the top of Croagh Patrick for the ‘Climb with Charlie’ fundraiser, which has raised over €2.7m for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Ireland’s national suicide prevention charity, Pieta.

Mr Bird has said he hopes to raise €3m in total. 

In a message posted on Twitter last evening, Mr Bird said was “lucky” to climb Croagh Patrick when he did, as his voice is now “gone” and his “swallow is getting worse”.

The former journalist said eating has become a “nightmare”.

Mr Bird wrote: “I am lucky I was able to climb Croagh Patrick. But with my voice gone I am now facing my biggest challenge yet. My swallow is getting worse. Sitting down now to eat is turning into a nightmare. But I can still extend the hand of friendship to everyone. Thanks for your support.”

The ‘Climb with Charlie’ hikes took place not only in Ireland but also in the US, South Africa, Australia and Spain. Around 10,000 supporters participated as he drew attention to the physical and mental battle people with motor neurone face.

The former broadcaster previously told how a publisher had displayed interest in publishing a coffee table book of the climbs.

The fundraising initiative is staying open for three months in order to collect as many contributions as possible.

Those who have taken photos of the climbs can email two photos to: Photos@climbwithcharlie.ie.

Meanwhile, the Bray Lions Club said it expects Mr Bird to lead the Darkness into Light walk in Wicklow this year.

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Charlie will reportedly lead the fundraising walk as it returns to Bray for an in-person event on the morning of Saturday, May 7.

Darkness into Light is organised by the charity Pieta, which provides lifesaving support services for those in suicidal distress and who have been bereaved through suicide.

It will return with organised walks in over 17 countries across five continents, beginning in darkness at sunrise and continuing through to dawn, symbolising the journey from despair to hope.

The latest figures show that in 2021 alone the 24/7 Pieta Helpline received nearly 100,000 calls and texts - close to 2,000 crisis calls and texts each week.

In response, each month Pieta provides over 4,000 hours of suicide and self-harm crisis therapy. Each day, seven additional teenagers come to Pieta for one-to-one support.

A number of well-known faces from the worlds of sport, music and entertainment have come together to launch this year’s Darkness into Light event, including broadcaster Grainne Seoige, musician Tolu Makay and former Dublin GAA player Philly McMahon.

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