Retired broadcaster Charlie Bird has said he is receiving hospice care at his Co Wicklow home in his ongoing battle with motor neurone disease.
The former RTE chief news correspondent is urging businesses across Ireland to host a coffee morning next month in a bid to help raise funds for the “brilliant” work that hospices do.
Two years on from his terminal diagnosis, Bird, 73, said his condition had worsened and that “every day is a struggle for me now”.
“But I live each day at a time. My MND has deteriorated, especially affecting my mobility,” he said.
Addressing people who had been recently diagnosed with MND, he said people should live each day at a time and “fight as hard as you can”.
Speaking through an app which clones his voice, he said he has been receiving care at his home from Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services.
“I want to make one thing very clear: when my time comes, I want to pass away at home surrounded by my family – and the hospice care team say they will look after me there,” he said.
Since his diagnosis, Bird has vowed to continue to support groups and charities “as long as I have a breath in my body”.
He helped raise more than 3.3 million euro for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and mental health charity Pieta last year in a campaign that saw him climb Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo.
Bird was joined by his wife Claire and their dog Tiger at Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa in Wicklow on Wednesday, as he asked the public, coffee shops, hotels and other businesses to join Ireland’s biggest coffee morning on September 21.
Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice has raised 43.2 million euro for Together for Hospice, the National Hospice Movement, since its inception in 1992.
The fundraising drive helps to pay for medical and general staff, palliative care beds, home care visits, specialist equipment and new hospice builds.
Bird said that hospices and specialist palliative home care providers across Ireland need further support to continue their “brilliant” work.
“I would plead with everyone, in addition to businesses and organisations, to host or sponsor a coffee morning on September 21, or whenever suits them.
“Even two people getting together for a coffee counts as a fundraiser.
“None of us knows in this life when we might need hospice care. So please, extend the hand of friendship and support the hospice wherever they are in the country.
“To those newly diagnosed with MND, I would advise: live each day at a time and fight as hard as you can.
“There are many great supports there to help us, so please use them.”
His wife Claire said the hospice care is providing a lifeline to the couple.
“They listen and take so much time and care looking after both Charlie’s physical and mental needs and also my needs as Charlie’s wife and carer,” she said.
“They never give up on us and their visits to our home give us hope that this dreadful journey can be made less stressful by letting them into our lives.”
Geraldine Tracey, interim director of nursing at Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services, said Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice is entering its fourth decade of raising funds.
“This ongoing support is invaluable and funds vital services and quality initiatives, enhancing care for patients living with a life-limiting illness.”
The public and businesses can register to host a coffee morning on Thursday September 21, or on another date that suits, at hospicecoffeemorning.ie or by calling 0818 995 996. A donation can also be made at hospicecoffeemorning.ie/donate.