‘I live each day at a time’ – Charlie Bird on receiving hospice care at home

Charlie Bird has told how he is receiving Hospice care at home in his ongoing battle with motor neurone disease.

The legendary broadcaster urged businesses across Ireland to host a coffee morning next month in a bid to raise €2million to support its work.

Outlining a worsening of his condition, the 73-year-old said: “Every day is a struggle for me now.

“But I live each day at a time. My MND has deteriorated, especially affecting my mobility.

“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.”

The former RTÉ chief news correspondent was joined by wife Claire and beloved dog Tiger at Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa in Enniskerry, Wicklow, 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 €43.2million 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.   

Two years after his diagnosis in autumn 2021, Charlie vowed to continue to support groups and charities “as long as I have a breath in my body”.

Communicating through an app which clones his speaking voice, he said he has been receiving care from Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services at his Wicklow home.

But this service, along with 25 other Hospice and specialist palliative home care providers across Ireland, needs further support to continue what he termed its “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, 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 Hospice 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. 

“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 now entering its fourth decade of raising funds in support of Hospice in-patient and community services around Ireland. 

“It is a chance to celebrate our many coffee morning hosts across the country, who are an incredible testament to the dedication and committed nature of Hospice supporters in local communities.

“This ongoing support is invaluable and funds vital services and quality initiatives enhancing care for patients living with a life limiting illness.”

*Businesses and the public can register to host a coffee morning, supporting their local Hospice on September 21, or on a date that suits them, on hospicecoffeemorning.ie or call 0818 995 996.

If they can not host or attend one, a donation can be made at hospicecoffeemorning.ie/donate.

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