Charlie Bird’s wife Claire says his illness has brought them closer together but she feels his pain


Charlie Bird’s wife Claire says his terminal illness has brought them closer and that she feels his pain.

The RTE veteran was diagnosed with motor neurone disease late last year after noticing issues with his speech.

Charlie has inspired the nation in the face of such terrible news, and earlier this year raised millions of euro for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta.

Read more: RTE viewers left in tears after seeing brave Charlie Bird with wife Claire in harrowing documentary

While Claire couldn’t be prouder of her husband, the diagnosis has also totally changed their lives and she says she feels his pain.

“When Charlie got his terminal diagnosis our lives came to a sudden halt. Everyday banter was replaced by the fear of not knowing what was coming down the line — and if we’d be able to cope,” she told the Sunday Independent.

“As his symptoms got worse, freedom and spontaneity became a thing of the past, so we tried to keep our heads above water as best as we could.

“Charlie’s illness has brought us closer, but it also has made us realise how fragile life is. It’s very disturbing and upsetting to see what this disease does to a body.

“I feel Charlie’s pain when he chokes on his food in public and has to walk away, too embarrassed to sit there and try to clear his throat when all eyes are on him.”

Claire added her husband cries tears of frustration when he can’t get the words he wants to say out.



Charlie Bird and wife Claire on the Late Late Show

But even though he is battling such an awful disease, he remains focused on helping other people, and Claire says everyone can learn a lot from him, especially following the incredible impact of Climb with Charlie.

“He is the most courageous human you could ever meet and nothing, not even this damn disease, will ever hold him back,” she said.

“During the campaign for Cmb with Charlie, I will witness his absolute focus and determination to raise funds and awareness for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta.

“To raise more than €3m, while trying to cope with the disease, is a feat in itself. He showed us what you can achieve when you’re at your lowest ebb in life.”

Earlier this year, Charlie admitted Claire is finding coping with his illness hard.

“She is 20 years younger than me,” he told RSVP Magazine.

“We met in RTE, we have had a great life and she is responsible for Tiger, our dog.

“I hated the idea of ​​getting a dog. I was away working a lot and living on my own but I didn’t want a dog, I was bitten by one once.

“Claire pleaded with me to get a dog and I have fallen in love with him. He gets me out of every dark place I am in.

“When I get home at night and go to bed, I might be a bit teary or I can’t sleep so Tiger lies beside me in the bed and we cuddle up – my poor wife!”

The former journalist added that he has many sleepless nights since he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

“I get tired in the evenings but it could be hours before I eventually nod off,” he said.

“The strange thing is when I wake up I am lying there and before I use my voice, I feel like myself and all is OK. Then I go to speak and bang, the horror of my situation is there.”

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