Charlie Bird makes emotional speech for Darkness Into Light

An estimated 120,000 people took part in annual 5km, held for first time in three years

Broadcaster Charlie Bird led the Bray walk for the Pieta House Darkness Into Light event this morning and encouraged participants to "live life to the full."

Two thousand people took to the streets in the Co Wicklow town with Mr Bird, who has Motor Neurone Disease, addressing the crowd at a bandstand by using a special speech device.

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

He praised the event organisers and all those who had taken to the street to support the charity.

“The Darkness in to Light walk is a powerful show of support for everyone who is in a dark place and I applaud the work of Pieta House. And while I have my own struggles I am going to continue to extend the hand of friendship and support the work of Pieta.”

Mr Bird said during his own recent “Climb with Charlie” event one of the candles he lit in the church at the top of Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo was for persons impacted by struggles of any kind.

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

The event this morning was the first “in person” Darkness Into Light walk in Bray in three years due to the pandemic.

An estimated 120,000 people took part in the annual 5km walk in aid of Pieta House at various locations throughout the country early on Saturday.

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

In Bettystown, Co Meath the owner of a local Centra Patrick Boshell asked that funds raised for his store - after it was gutted in a fire over the bank holiday weekend - be donated to the charity.

Since 2006 Pieta House has counselled more than 60,000 people and established fifteen centres across Ireland.

The early morning annual walk has humble origins.

In 2009, in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, 400 people gathered for the first Darkness Into Light to raise funds for Pieta.

From this the movement has grown year-on-year and now takes place across five continents.

The Pieta House 24-hour Free crisis helpline is available every day at 1800 247 247 or Text HELP 51444 (standard rates apply) if you or someone you know is in crisis experiencing suicidal ideation, engaging in self-harm, 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 needed.

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