How a Welsh Guard was found a home
As a former member of the Welsh Guards who fought in the Falklands War, Martin knows more than most about the limits of human endurance. But when the 58-year-old found himself destitute and homeless at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, the proud Welshman admits he had some bleak thoughts.
Martin said, “It has been tough. There were times when I thought ‘wow, how did I get to this point?’ I’ve always been clean and sober and worked very hard. But that’s life isn’t it?”
This fit, active man’s life changed irrevocably on a cold February day about 6 years ago. He’d made a smooth transition from the military – moving to America to work in IT – then returning to the UK after several years to look after his ageing parents.
In London for a business meeting, he began sweating profusely and felt his heart begin to race. Suddenly drained of energy, he dragged himself to the A&E department of the nearest hospital where doctors found he had a serious heart arrhythmia – an irregular heartbeat – and a faulty heart valve.
He said, “My life changed in a nanosecond; [the arrhythmia] left me physically and mentally depleted. All of a sudden you have limitations on your life and I’ve been trying to adapt to it ever since.”
No longer able to cope with the stresses of full time work, Martin gradually depleted his savings. Eventually he had to move out of his rented flat and began sleeping on a friend’s sofa. By the time the coronavirus lockdown began he was becoming desperate.
Help arrived in the shape of a National Lottery-funded charity called Veterans Aid. They found him a room in a hotel, then, after liaising with a housing association, more permanent rental accommodation in west London.
Martin said, “[Veterans Aid] are the cornerstone of where I am today. Without them I really don’t know where I’d be. What they did has put me on the map again. It was all so fast I had to pinch myself that it was really happening.”
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5th October 2020
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