Comic reveals pal’s plight
Stand-up comic and TV star, Jon Richardson, has opened up about his extraordinary friendship with a man who lives with a very rare muscle-wasting condition.
Jon (pictured above, left) met 47-year-old Martin Hywood at a Leeds United football match several years ago, and the pair immediately hit it off.
Martin, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, lives with limb girdle muscular dystrophy, a progressive and life-limiting illness that causes his muscles to weaken and waste over time. But while comic Jon enjoys a life in the limelight, Martin has spent more than a year shielding amid the COVID-19 pandemic because he is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he has tragically lost the ability to walk as his muscles have further wasted.
‘Martin and I first met at the football, like proper lads,’ recalls Jon. ‘I remember the game specifically because, like many, we'd both travelled a fair distance to be there. Martin had travelled in hope of a comfortable win and I had brought my father for his seventieth birthday celebrations for the same reason.
‘We lost 1-0 to a team that went on to be relegated, but things are better now and we can appreciate the good times for having been through the bad. That’s a good metaphor for Martin's approach to life.’
Limb girdle muscular dystrophy causes muscles, particularly of the shoulders, hips and thighs, to weaken and waste over time leading to increasing disability. It can be diagnosed at any age, and varies widely between individuals – even within the same family. In some cases, it affects the muscles of the heart and breathing muscles, leading to life-threatening complications.
In a bid to raise awareness about the condition, which affects 70,000 Britons, the duo launched an appeal on BBC Radio 4, seeking urgent support for the Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) charity in a bid to help it recoup vital funds to continue its crucial work.
Last year, MDUK’s income plummeted by £2.4m overnight as the UK went into lockdown and the charity’s calendar of in-person fundraising events was cancelled.
The pair, who perhaps have more in common than might be initially obvious, are both trying to make the world a better place.
Continued Jon: ‘Martin is doing it with direct fundraising and inspirational writing and I'm doing it by being so negative and draining that the world will improve by default just for not having me in it any more.’
Talking about his friendship with his 38-year-old comedian pal, Martin commented: ‘It's great to have a mate like Jon because you just feel better about yourself when you’re in his company. Seriously though, he's a fantastic friend who endorses all the good things I'm trying to achieve, especially when I'm trying to raise awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK on social media.’
Martin tragically lost the ability to walk during lockdown because of months spend shielding inside.
‘I will not stop shouting about this until I see a treatment or cure in my lifetime, he added. ‘I do feel that we're on the cusp of greatness and it would be magnificent to say Jon and I were there and that we contributed towards that result.’