‘Caring for my dying mum set me against euthanasia’

A TV presenter who put his career on hold to care for his terminally ill mother, says his experience has left him “more opposed to euthanasia than ever”.

Charlie Ottley, a TV travel presenter, told of his mother’s 14-year battle with multiple myeloma in an article for the Daily Mail newspaper.

Mr Ottley describes the difficulties of caring for his mother but said “it’s worth fighting for every moment of life”.

He said: “It’s a controversial topic, but I can tell you that after years of caring for my grievously ill mother, I am more opposed to euthanasia than ever.”

Multiple myeloma is an aggressive form of cancer and sufferers are expected not to live beyond two to four years.

He said: “As the illness has become worse, I constantly need to think of things to pep her spirits up because I firmly believe it’s having something to live for that keeps the reaper from mother’s cottage door.”

Mr Ottley was writing in light of the coming debate on euthanasia in the House of Lords, where Peers could vote to allow individuals to take sick relatives to suicide facilities overseas, such as Swiss suicide facility Dignitas, without breaking the law.

He said: “I believe it’s worth fighting for every moment of life – which is why I was so dismayed to hear in the past few days that there are 800 British people on a waiting list for Dignitas.”

Mr Ottley is now renting a house near his mother so he can look after her.

He said his daily routine often involves “organising and dispensing her bewildering array of pills, sorting her bills, cooking meals, doing the shopping and, most recently, wrapping her leg with clingfilm and taping it with bin liners so the bandages don’t get wet when she has a shower.”

The bandages are treating an injury which occurred when he took her abroad for what he believes “will undoubtedly be the final time”.

But he said: “I don’t regret taking her on holiday. As the illness has become worse, I constantly need to think of things to pep her spirits up because I firmly believe it’s having something to live for that keeps the reaper from mother’s cottage door.”

Mr Ottley expressed his concern that the elderly in Britain are being excluded and not receiving the level of care that is seen in other countries on the continent.

He said: “As our population ages due to medical advances, more people are finding themselves lumbered with a parent or two in need of some degree of care.

“The continental approach to the elderly, particularly in Catholic countries, usually involves sticking them in a spare room or annex and making them part of the family.

“In Britain, we have a far less inclusive approach to old age, perhaps because of our reluctance to deal with death and those nearest to it.

“Maybe it’s just inconvenient, which it is”, he added.