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Jonnie Irwin ‘couldn’t stop apologising’ when he shared terminal cancer diagnosis, says wife Jessica Holmes

Jonnie Irwin and his wife, Jess Holmes, have opened up about how they are dealing with his terminal cancer diagnosis.

The Escape to the Country presenter, 49, said in November that he “doesn’t know how long” he has left to live, after first being diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2020.

In a new interview in The Sun, Holmes recalled the moment Irwin shared his diagnosis with her.

“He couldn’t stop apologising. He kept saying ‘sorry’ over and over and I just kept telling him it wasn’t his fault,” she said.

The A Place In The Sun presenter married Holmes in September 2016. They share three sons: Rex, born in 2018, and twin sons Rafa and Cormac, born in 2020.

Irwin has given Holmes his blessing for her to meet someone else in the future, but she said she won’t consider it.

“I can think of the support I’ll need and that sort of thing but when it comes to me, my life is the boys. That’s enough for me. That’s where my thinking stops.

“It terrifies me that I’m suddenly going to be in a house on my own, the sole adult with three young boys. The prospect of being a single mum and a widow is awful to think about. I never chose to do this on my own. I picked Jonnie because I knew he would be an amazing dad and life partner.

She continued: “So more than anything I’m just gutted we’re not going to have that, for both our sakes.”

Alongside traditional cancer treatment, Irwin has turned to alternative therapies, including infusions of vitamin C, daily vitamins, a strict diet and treatment in an oxygen chamber. Holmes said a reason why Irwin is “still here” is down to his “sheer willpower”.

Irwin added that he was struggling to keep up the physical demands of being a father to his three children.

Irwin’s wife said he ‘couldn’t stop apologising’ when he told her about his diagnosis (@jonnieirwintv / Instagram)
Irwin’s wife said he ‘couldn’t stop apologising’ when he told her about his diagnosis (@jonnieirwintv / Instagram)

“I tried to play football with Rex the other day and was in goal and I couldn’t get near the ball. It was so frustrating,” he said.

“I’m very sporty and suddenly it’s just like… it was as if it was the first time I’d attempted football. I felt like a granddad. And that broke me a bit.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Irwin also revealed that he recently celebrated his 50th birthday early, ahead of the actual date in November, with a huge party with 170 friends and family.

“It was a great night,” he said. “I chose a playlist with some great tunes from the 90s and 2000s and people came from all over the country and abroad.

“I didn’t know the extent of the loyalty and generosity that my friends would exhibit. I’ve been dumbfounded and spellbound by their support, as well as that of our families, who have been amazing.”

He added: “I’m weak now, fragile and my memory is terrible… but I’m still here.”