Amazing comeback after heart transplant for Yate former soldier Phil

October 20 2021
Amazing comeback after heart transplant for Yate former soldier Phil

A FORMER soldier from Yate who had life-saving heart transplant surgery just 18 months ago has completed a remarkable comeback to run in this year's Bristol Half-Marathon.

Now, cheered by having completed the 13-mile course in 30 minutes under his target time, Phillip Hardwell, 34, is already planning another charity fund-raiser to help the doctors who saved his life.

The last time Phil ran the Bristol half-marathon, in 2015, it took him an hour and 45 minutes. Back then, however, he was a fit and healthy soldier.

This time, he said his goal was simply to cross the finish line.

He managed it in just over two and a half hours but, he says, he needed all his "commando spirit." 

Phil ran with Brendan Hickinson, a friend and former comrade, with whom he served in 29 Commando regiment, Royal Artillery, until 2018, when he was medically discharged.

The former bombardier, who had spent 12 years in the Army, including two tours of Afghanistan, was forced to leave the only job he'd known after developing a heart disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, or ARVC. 

Phil's decision to run was cleared by his doctors at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, where he received a new heart in April 2020.

He said: "I was back there only last week for a check-up – it was clear."

For the next few years he'll require six-monthly checks, and he takes medication twice a day to prevent his body rejecting the new heart.

Phil said: "The initial plan in running the half-marathon was to raise money for Papworth but I had done a football match about a month before, which raised £1,000, and I didn't want to impose on my family and friends again so soon."

After the football match, in which he was joined on the pitch by elder son Reggie, aged nine, Phil said: "I feel so grateful that I am here today to be with my family. They mean the world to me and I am glad that I am now able to spend more time with them."

Phil Hardwell with sons Reggie and Luca after playing in a fundraising football match

Phil's wife, Roxy, has just joined the police.

Her dream job, she had to put it on hold while Phil was in hospital.

He said: "I was in hospital during the first lockdown and she was staying in a B&B down the road. I didn't see her until I walked out with my new heart. Now it's her turn."

While remaining very vulnerable to Covid, Phil is just starting a new job, as a health and safety officer with MBDA, the European missile manufacturer, at its site in Filton. 

However, his friends and family can expect to be asked once again to dig deep for Phil's next fund-raising event – a skydive planned next year to raise further funds for the transplant centre at Papworth.

Phil (centre) running with friend and former comrade Brendan Hickinson