Escape to the Country host Jonnie Irwin’s plan to help his children after he’s gone following cancer diagnosis
Father-of-three Jonnie Irwin opens up about providing for his young children following his terminal cancer diagnosis.
Jonnie Irwin turned 49 in November but the father-of-three who was diagnosed with terminal cancer doesn’t know if he will make it to 50. In a devastating interview, Irwin shares his plan on how he will look after his family when he’s gone.
The TV property presenter had kept his illness private for two years but decided to get the ‘monkey off his back’ and reveal all in an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine earlier this year. The BBC’s Escape to the Country host said he has been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has spread to his brain.
On Thursday (December 15), Irwin joined presenter Gethin Jones on BBC’s Morning Live to open up about how he is planning to take care of his sons Rex, three, and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac after he’s gone.
He said: "Being freelance, I had a couple of properties. I wanted to try and get in a position to get my family into a mortgage-free situation and so I sold my buy-to-lets and then started looking around my savings. I think most people should do this every five years anyway, just to see how much you are worth. We always put it off but it is helpful.
"I went round looking in all my cookie jars. I consulted my life insurance policy holder who gave me the rules and regulations of what you can expect. To some extent, I did everything I could but I wish I had done more, certainly in terms of life insurance."
Jonnie revealed that he first got the first warning sign when he was filming for A Place in the Sun for Channel 4 in Italy in August 2020, as his vision went blurry while driving. After a sound engineer on the show took him to hospital, tests soon revealed that he had lung cancer which had spread to his brain.
He added that after being silent for years, it was time to take control of and share his experience to others, he said: “My experience will hopefully help people with a life-threatening disease and people who are dealing with these people.
When you get diagnosed with something so serious, all control is taken away. I wanted to take control back, so I did the usual weird diets and I also knew I had to look after my family. The moment you have family, you have this massive responsibility to look after them.”
Irwin also highlighted the grey area between life insurance and the pressures of working with a terminal illness. "When you get a terminal diagnosis, it covers you for when you are gone,” he said.
"But a terminal diagnosis can go on for years and it will affect your work and you are waiting for this payout, who is going to pay your rent if you can’t work? Critical illness covers you as soon as you are ill.
“I didn’t take that and that put a lot of pressure on me, having to work on days when I didn’t feel like it. That is the one mistake I made."
Later on the show Jones revealed that the crew had tried to contact Jonnie for an interview, he was too busy mountain biking. Jonnie said: “We are normal human beings. Don’t not invite us because you think we won’t be well enough.”
“Treat us as you would do two years ago. We are the same as everyone else and we want the same opportunities for fun as everyone else."