My Cole comfort | 

Showband legend Paddy Cole opens up about serious illness as he’s praised for Make-A-Wish work

Paddy (82) told how he is taking inspiration from the young children he's seen through Make-A-Wish coping with their illnesses

Paddy Cole

Eddie Rowley

Irish showband legend Paddy Cole has revealed that he is suffering from a serious health issue, but is fighting it with a "positive attitude".

One of our best-loved entertainers, Paddy, who first rose to fame in the 1960s with The Capitol Showband, was diagnosed in recent weeks and is currently undergoing treatment.

Although he has had to pull out of live performances, Paddy is still presenting his hugely popular Sunday morning show on Sunshine radio.

An ambassador for the Make-A-Wish children's charity, which grants life- changing wishes to young people with critical illnesses, Paddy this week hosted their fund-raising Paddy Cole Golf Classic at Powerscourt in Co. Wicklow.

However, the sax player and singer didn't play in the competition that featured many of his showbiz pals, including Red Hurley, Dickie Rock, Finbar Furey, Mario Rosenstock, Aonghus McAnally and George Hunter.

Paddy on stage

In an interview with the Sunday World, Paddy (82) told how he is taking inspiration from the young children he's seen through Make-A-Wish coping with their illnesses.

"We all experience health problems at some stage in our lives, but it's so unfair what these children and teenagers have to deal with," Paddy says.

"I now have a medical challenge. I'm being treated and I am facing it with a positive attitude. The kids are an inspiration to me.

"You think you're bad until you see those kids. But it's encouraging the way they handle it. It's very encouraging for me and I intend to handle it very well also."

Paddy Cole, Finbar Furey, Susan O’Dwyer, George Hunter and Red Hurley

The iconic Irish musician has had an incredible career in showbusiness going back to the 1960s with The Capitol Showband who packed out the ballrooms around Ireland in that era.

In the early '70s, the Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan native moved to Las Vegas to join The Big 8 Showband after they landed a residency in The Stardust hotel.

Paddy would go on to meet and hang out with many of the top showbiz icons in Vegas, including the biggest of them all, Elvis Presley, who went to see The Big 8 perform.

He has been performing at one-off shows until recently, explaining: "I always say, 'You don't stop because you get old, you get old because you stop.' I see guys who retire and have nothing to do, and they age overnight. My philosophy is to keep active and do what you love for as long as you can."

Make-A-Wish chief executive Susan O'Dwyer this week made a special presentation to Paddy, who set up the fund-raising golf classic with his friend, businessman Thomas Murphy, from Thomas's in Foxrock.

Finbar Furey, Red Hurley, Susan O’Dwyer, George Hunter and Dickie Rock

She described it as "a memory of some of our Make-A-Wish children and the part you played in it."

Susan said: "Paddy and Thomas have put together an incredible committee and the Paddy Cole Golf Classic has introduced us to a lot of companies.

"We don't get any government funding to run Make-A-Wish. We have a huge amount of support from the general public and from communities, but we need more corporates to come on board and work with us.

"By granting wishes to children and teenagers, aged from three to 17, we help them to have that time where they can forget about the hospitals, their treatment, their illness and all the fear that is associated with it.

Paddy receiving a special award from Make-A-Wish CEO Susan O’Dwyer

"Our wish-granting team go the extra mile for our children. We had a child who wanted to be an astronaut and that was done through a simulator. We had another who wanted to be Sonic the Hedgehog and that was filmed with the child. It was screened in a cinema for him and his friends and then he was presented with an 'Oscar'.

"With the support of people and those in the corporate world we will continue to grant wishes and to meet the needs of these children.

"When you hear a parent tell you that when their child was born she had the most amazing sparkly eyes, but leukaemia took that away and Make A Wish brought the sparkle back…that's when you know Make A Wish is having an incredible impact.

"This year we are looking at granting 150 wishes and in 2023 the aim is that we can actually get back to pre-pandemic because we have over 220 children on our waiting list.

You can now donate online at or text MYWISH to 50300. Text costs €4. Make-A-Wish will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 01 481 9311.

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