'Blown away' | 

Charlie Bird pledges to help ‘people in dark places’ in heartfelt update

The former broadcaster has shared his goal to raise awareness for the work of the Samaritans.

Former RTÉ news reporter Charlie Bird. Photo by Maxwells Dublin© No Fee Pic

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Charlie Bird has issued a heartfelt update from home with his beloved dog Tiger, opening up about his plans for the future.

The former broadcaster has shared his ongoing journey with motor neurone disease since his diagnosis last year.

Since then, Charlie says he is “so blown away by the support” and has a new goal: “to raise awareness for the work of the Samaritans who are extending the hand of friendship to people in dark place.”

The RTÉ star tweeted a video of himself and Tiger, with his new book and a painting of the pair propped up beside them.

Charlie has been using a “cloned voice” to deliver his messages, using new technology that replicates his voice –something his motor neurone disease attacked first.

He actioned along to one of these generated messages in this heartfelt update.

“Hi, myself and Tiger here,” he says with a thumbs up and a point to the god he adopted two years ago and has been inseparable from ever since.

"I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of ‘Time and Tide’ written with the help of my close friend Ray Burke.”

The autobiography has made to to the shortlist of the An Post Irish Book Awards and Charlie says he is “delighted” and “elated” to be in the company of fellow nominees.

"To be very honest after everything that has happened to me in the last year to eighteen months, I could not hide from anything,” he said.

"I put some very painful things down on the pages.

"The name for the book came from a saying that my father often said to me: ‘Time and tide waits for no man.’

"And that is the truth for all of us."

The star said he is going to devoting most of his time and energy to working with the Samaritans and helping people who are going through difficult times.

In a recent once-off interview from his Co Wicklow home on The Late Late Show alongside his wife Claire, he told host Ryan Tubridy that he has finally made peace with his grim diagnosis despite losing his voice now completely.

“The truth is, I have finally come to terms with my illness. In my head, I have come to terms fully with my situation. I understand there is no silver bullet and I have just got to get on with my life. In other words, I fully understand what is ahead of me.

"If I am really lucky, I may survive another year. I can still walk and when people see me out walking, they tell me I am looking great, but the horrible truth of my MND with my voice now fully gone, my swallow has deteriorated and every time I sit down to eat, it is now a challenge to get through the meal without a coughing fit.

"And honestly, that is very scary. But Ryan, and as I said at the outset, I have come to terms with my MND, and I completely realise I am not the only person in this situation. There are lots of people that are also with terminal illnesses.

"My thoughts are always with Vicky Phelan, she is the most courageous person and look what she has done for the women of Ireland. So, I look up to her and her spirit to continue battling away in the situation she has been in for much longer than me.

"What keeps me going now? I have decided to continue to try and help people who are in dark places with my motto ‘to extend the hand of friendship to everyone’.”

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