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Charlie Bird ‘lives for everyday’ as he fears this will be his last Christmas

Veteran journalist Charlie Bird said he now “lives for every day” as he believes he won’t see the end of next year due to terminal illness.

RTE’s best-known reporter was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in October and has accepted this may be his last Christmas.

In an interview with the Irish Mirror, the 72-year-old said: “I know I am dying. How long I’ll be around for, I don’t know.

“I hate to say it, I am scared of dying. We all die, but I know my final days are coming.

“As a journalist, when you were working abroad you never knew what was going to happen to you. I want to live as much as possible and help anyone I can. If I last a year, it will be like winning the lottery.”

Christmas songs on the radio make Charlie cry, because, “I will never hear another one again after this year”.

He added: “I’m trying to be positive, but I’m tearful – that happens all the time.”

He will spend Christmas Eve with daughters Orla and Neasa and his three grandchildren, while he and wife Claire, who he married in 2016, will spend Christmas Day together.

He said: “I meet my two daughters once a week now and spend quality time together, so we will have memories.”

Charlie, former chief reporter with RTE News who retired in 2012 after 38 years, met wife and colleague Claire Mould at a Bruce Springsteen concert 15 years ago.

Tragically, he now wants The Boss played at his own funeral.

He revealed: “I’ve made my wish.

“The piece of music I’ve arranged to play at my funeral is Bruce Springsteen’s song Land of Hope and Dreams.

“It breaks my heart how I used to rock around the kitchen singing Bruce Springsteen and I never will be able to again.”

Since his heartbreaking Late Late Show interview earlier this month, when he told the nation he cries every day, he has received a “tsunami” of letters of support.

He said: “The amount of goodwill which I’m receiving is unbelievable, I’m totally uplifted by what’s going on. I never thought this was going to happen.

“What scares me is that in a few months time I will have no voice.

“I’ve had hundreds of letters and thousands of messages and they say it’s not my voice, but what I’ve done in the past is most important. I love when people tell me that.

“I was not born a saint, I worked hard at trying to be a journalist, but I wasn’t a natural. I had to work on it. I always had a dictionary by my side.”

Opening up on his dying wish to help others, Charlie told how he wants the nation to reach out to those in need.

He added: “I think I’ve hit a nerve of hope for people.

“Whatever time I have left on this earth, I want to help people.

“It’s my dying wish to have a better health service. It’s not just Covid, we’ve always been burdened by the fact we don’t have a top health service, we’ve made a mess of it.

“I’m trying to raise money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. Every day at least one person is diagnosed with this disease, over 400 a year.”

With this charity aim in mind, he is climbing Croagh Patrick for IMNDA next year with his new close friend, cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan.

Meeting Vicky was life-changing for Charlie who said: “It’s not just the Freedom of Limerick Vicky Phelan should be receiving, but the Freedom of Ireland.”

Charlie also told how he has become more spiritual and added: “For me every minute I have left is charmed.”

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