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Charlie and cast of characters come to Johnny's side ahead of TV show airing

There is love in every corner of that house’

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Johnny Aylward with Charlie Bird and Tiger the dog at the Emigrant Flame.

Johnny Aylward with Charlie Bird and Tiger the dog at the Emigrant Flame.

Johnny Aylward with Charlie Bird and Tiger the dog at the Emigrant Flame.

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Motor Neurone Disease (MND) sufferer Johnny Aylward says he is grateful for every day's health he has and to all of the people in New Ross area and from across the country who helped build his family a new home.

There was a phenomenal response to the appeal by a TV production company for tradespeople to volunteer to build a house for Johnny, who was diagnosed MND in late 2020.

The cameras rolled in to Shanbogh last summer to help get newly married man Johnny a home.

The DIY SOS Team came to New Ross on Monday, meeting with Johnny and students at New Ross CBS and Our Lady of Lourdes, ahead of the airing of the 52-minute show in March.

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Johnny said he is thrilled to be in the house with Lynn and their two young boys, Mikey and Daire.

Johnny lost power in his right leg in September.

"This disease seems to come at you and then it plateaus and goes dormant for a little while and then it comes at you again. Everybody has a different timescale on it. It was given two years 14 months ago. Now we are going to beat that I can guarantee you.”

He has come to accept the disease.

“The first three or four weeks when you are told you are terminally ill and there is not get out clause; your head is just mashed. Everything comes to a stop. We were told on November 19 at 7 p.m. in 2020. We got home; we sat up and had our cries and had a beer and went to be at around 4.30 and then two little boys came into the room at half half six and for those two boys: Daire is 9 and Mikey is 7; they don’t need to know.”

Sitting in a motorised wheelchair in the Dunbrody Experience centre, he said it’s all about the tone you set for your children

"We made fun out of the wheelchair. They use it too. We make light of it.”

He is still trying to find out the names of everyone who contributed to the building of the house.

“It’s an incredible house. Not only did they build a house for us, there is love in every corner of that house. 2,000 people came down that lane to build our house. We are awful people to knock our own towns but when the sh*t hit the fan they came out in their droves. We still don’t know who built it, and we won’t know until we see the show in March. So now when you’re going through town you have to wave at everybody.”

The construction began on July 15 and Johnny and his family came back on July 29 to a finished, landscaped house.

"They were working round the clock. These are busy men who gave of their time.”

A member of The Nomads band and a former pantomime actor, Johnny found sharing his story challenging.

"It was daunting. You are laying your soul bare to the nation. You are telling them your fears and about the diagnosis. Viewers are going to se your cry and see you laugh."

Johnny said people with MND don’t have time to be lonely because of the speed of the disease. He said Charlie Bird – who has MND – is helping to raise awareness about the condition.

"Over 80pc of funds to run the Irish charity comes from fundraising. IMNDA have been amazing to me. They get you what you need so quickly.” 


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