Drink Tea for MND Ambassador 2022

Roy Taylor

Roy Taylor once sang in the Eurovision Song Contest but now speaking is a struggle. He was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2018.

Roy Taylor is a national treasure. And that’s not just because he represented Ireland in Eurovision in 1988 with a great band and a terrific song. It’s because he’s a force for good. He’s a giver, a motivator, an encourager. His infectious positivity isn’t just visible in how he talks and connects with loved ones and strangers. It defines him. It’s as if his optimism is in his DNA. And it’s all the more extraordinary when you learn that four years ago, he received the stark diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.

For Roy and his family, the moment of diagnosis was a catastrophic and terrifying one – as it is for most people with MND. Roy’s brother-in-law had died from MND, so there was no hiding from the tough and uncompromising road that lay ahead.

But within a few months, Roy felt he had the measure of the disease – it’s like he’s now treating MND as a fierce opponent. He knows the outcome of the fight, but Roy is dictating the pace and tactics – and crucially, the number of rounds.

Roy also knows, everyone deals with the condition differently:

“We’re all made differently. People have different strengths and different support networks. My family and friends really are amazing. But not everyone has that. It’s everyone’s right to live with the disease as they see fit. I just try to instil a positive attitude around living the best life we can within whatever limits we have”.

Roy is passionate about music. He talks about his busy and successful career:

“I’ve been a musician for most of my life. As a kid, I worked in an electrical appliance company and one day, I met a friend who suggested I should contact people in the music industry. I went into a phone box outside Dunnes Stores on George’s Street and I called a showband agency. I sent in a tape and a photo and, low and behold, I was picked. Suddenly – I was a member of the Nevada Show band”.

He had lots of other music projects on the go. He formed the band Jump the Gun with some friends. Then his career took another turning point.

Thanks to Johnny Logan’s win in Brussels in 1987, Dublin hosted the following year’s Eurovision song contest. ‘Take Him Home’, performed by Jump the Gun, was chosen to represent Ireland. That meant a higher profile and more touring.

MND limits his ability to perform. Roy copes by being Roy. By being active. And advocating for funding. And he says, of course, he has tough moments.

“I worry about not being around for my children and grandchildren"

Roy’s extraordinary wife, Lisa, describes him in a very moving way:

“He is truly an amazing husband, father, friend. He is trying to be brave for everybody – sometimes he seems like the strongest guy in the whole world. But I know he feels darker moments too. Honestly you could go from here to the end of the world and nobody would say a bad word about him.”

Roy’s support for Drink Tea for MND means the message for better services and research is reaching more people and he is motivating people all over the country to host an event:

“It’s so Irish – to gather around and drink tea.  And at those important moments – crisis, happiness, birthdays, funerals – if the Russians invade us, the first thing the government will do is remind us all to have a cup of tea. I hope lots of people out there host an event. It’s so easy and funding is so crucial.”

MND is part of his life now – but only a part. His positivity spreads – just like his generous spirit – wherever he goes.

“Despite the huge challenge of living with a distressing illness that may end my life early, when I hear of Irish people gathering and having fun over a tea or coffee – to help people like me and our extraordinary caregivers – it brings joy to my heart. You have no idea how much it means to us.”

So, Roy continues to live life to the full. He’s still immersed in his family. Still advocating for patients and for funding towards research and new treatments. 

In fact, you get the sense from Roy that in spite of Motor Neurone Disease, he’ll continue motoring. The neurones can take care of themselves.