RTÉ Presenter Baz Ashmawy has shared how he was inspired to climb Croagh Patrick with Charlie Bird after working on a program with a father of seven who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of motor neuron disease (MND).
The opening episode of the second season DIY: SO saw 1,000 volunteers give their time to help build Johnny Aylward’s ‘eternal home’.
Ashmawy has kept in touch with Mr Aylward and he attended the Climb with Charlie event as a tribute to that friendship.
He said what Charlie Bird has achieved is “just amazing”. An estimated 10,000 supporters joined him on Croagh Patrick on April 2nd.
“I was there on the last bit when Charlie got to the top and I’m there moaning over my knee and the man has MND – and he’s up and down the hill like a rabbit. It was just amazing to watch him,” he said.
Ashmawy also said he was “overwhelmed” by the response to his new series DIY: SO. The second episode claimed a 40 percent share of the available audience.
At a time when the news agenda has never been so grim, his build series, which features teams of experts building and renovating homes for vulnerable families, has struck a real chord with Irish viewers.
“It’s funny because some things are hard, some things are very sad, but also overwhelming, the empathy of the people and the kindness out there. And I think that’s what people need to see. You have to see that there is good out there and that people care,” he said.
What makes the show even more remarkable is that all of this construction is taking place at a time when supplies have gone up by 30 pieces and craftsmen are in very short supply. All materials are also donated free of charge. Also, there is often a time factor where some of the families do not have a year to wait for their home to be built, giving the projects a sense of urgency.
“I know crafters are in high demand, but for some reason this seems to work outside of anything where it’s on a much more human level.
“I think if you work in an industry and you’re busy all the time, you just pinch yourself every once in a while.”
He added, “They say, ‘I’m very grateful, I feel like I should give something back to the universe because I’m so lucky.’
“And a lot of these people in construction and commerce are working and doing well and they’re in demand and maybe they feel like they want to give something back.”
Everything viewers see on the show has been donated by local and big corporations alike, and Ashmawy said it would be “impossible to do” without her generosity.
“It’s fantastic. I was wondering if we were running out of goodwill in this type of company? But they’re so generous, they’ve been so nice and so good. They’re on par with the volunteers,” he said.
The fact that many of the volunteers work around the clock to complete the projects is another feature of the show.
“Take the money out, especially with something like MND, that’s a man that’s on a watch. Every minute counts, so you don’t have a year to build a house. They did it all in 12 days, that’s the urgency too.”
DIY: SOS airs Sundays at 18:30 on RTÉ One
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/im-there-moaning-about-my-knee-and-charlie-bird-has-mnd-and-hes-up-and-down-the-mountain-like-a-rabbit-baz-ashmawy-41562316.html Climbing with Charlie: “I’m moaning over my knee there and Charlie Bird has MND – and he’s pacing up and down the mountain like a rabbit” – RTÉ’s Baz Ashmawy