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John rustles up €17k for heart charity as Restaurant goes live

BRAVE maitre d' John Healy, best known for his role on RTE's The Restaurant, raised €17,000 when he organised a live version of the hit show at the Wineport Lodge in Athlone for the Irish Heart Foundation.

Healy (45) has been on the waiting list for a heart transplant for the past seven months, after suffering two heart attacks in recent years and says he plans to do everything in his power to get the message of 'organ donation' out there.

John acted as maitre d' on the night, while his colleagues on the RTE show; chefs Stephen McAlister and Louise Lennox joined forces with fellow critics Paolo Tullio, Tom Doorley and Lucinda O' Sullivan to mark mystery 'celebrity chef' Conrad Gallagher on his efforts.

"It was fantastic, we had a really lovely evening," he told the Diary. "We were sold out completely with 150 guests. I basically just wanted to draw awareness to the cause and get the word out there that it is possible to help other people through your own misery.

"It's important to sign the donor card and sit down with your next of kin and make them aware that you want to donate.

"There are so many people waiting for organs and so many have had to be rejected recently because they're in such bad condition.

"I'm on a transplant waiting list myself for the last seven months. Mentally and emotionally once you go through the whole process it can be hard to keep the spirits up.

"It's my responsibility to keep myself well for my transplant. Through helping other people and raising awareness, I'm doing something," he added.