Charlie Bird gives a moving speech for Darkness Into Light

Broadcaster Charlie Bird led the Bray Walk for the Pieta House Darkness Into Light event this morning and encouraged attendees to ‘live life to the fullest’.

Two thousand people took to the streets of the town of Co Wicklow with Mr Bird, who has motor neuron disease, addressing the crowd at a bandstand using a special voice device.

Tens of thousands of people participated in hundreds of Darkness Into Light on Saturday morning. Photography: INPHO/James Crombie

In a speech captured on Twitter, Charlie said that in the LGBT community he knew of a family who had lost two loved ones to suicide, with one being bullied in a homophobic way.

He congratulated the organizers of the event and all those who took to the streets to support the charity.

“The Darkness in to Light march is a powerful show of support for anyone in a dark place and I applaud the work of Pieta House. And while I have my own struggles, I will continue to reach out of friendship and to support the work of Pieta.

Mr Bird said at his recent ‘Climb with Charlie’ event that one of the candles he lit in the church at the top of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo was for people affected by struggles of all sorts.

Participants hold a candle at Malahide Castle in County Dublin ahead of the march.  Photography: INPHO/Tom Maher

Participants hold a candle at Malahide Castle in County Dublin ahead of the march. Photography: INPHO/Tom Maher

“Those who are in dark places and have their own mountains to climb. You never know when you might be sitting or standing next to someone who is in a dark place. In my own lifetime, I I have known a number of people who have committed suicide and learned firsthand the importance of the work done by Pieta House.

This morning’s event was the first “in-person” Darkness Into Light walk in Bray in three years due to the pandemic.

About 120,000 people took part in the annual 5k walk to benefit Pieta House at various locations across the country early Saturday.

People walk past Malahide Castle in County Dublin as part of the Darkness Into Light march this morning.  Photography: Dara MacDonail/The Irish Times

People walk past Malahide Castle in County Dublin as part of the Darkness Into Light march this morning. Photography: Dara MacDonail/The Irish Times

Cafes opened early in many parts of the country in a show of solidarity with the walkers and the charity.

In Bettystown, Co Meath, local Centra owner Patrick Boshell has asked that funds raised for his store – after it was destroyed by fire over the bank holiday weekend – be donated to the charity charity.

Since 2006, Pieta House has advised over 60,000 people and established fifteen centers across Ireland.

The annual early morning march has humble origins.

In 2009, at Dublin’s Phoenix Park, 400 people gathered for the first Darkness Into Light to raise money for Pieta.

From there, the movement has grown year on year and now takes place on five continents.

The free Pieta House 24-hour helpline is available every day on 1800 247 247 or Text HELP 51444 (standard rates apply) if you or someone you know is in crisis and has ideas suicidal, you mutilate yourself or have been bereaved by suicide.

To make an appointment or discuss a scheduled appointment, members of the public can contact 0818 111 126 with no referral necessary.

Donations can be made to Pieta House at https://www.pieta.ie/support-our-work/donate/

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