Yate veteran waits for heart transplant as friends fundraise to help his family

January 27 2020
Yate veteran waits for heart transplant as friends fundraise to help his family

FRIENDS are rallying round to help the family of a former soldier from Yate who urgently needs a heart transplant.

Phillip Hardwell, 32, is waiting for a heart transplant at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, having suffered multiple organ failure in December.

Phill's wife Roxy has given up work to be at his bedside.

Friends have rallied round to support the family both emotionally and financially, with thousands raised from donations and fundraising events, with another planned this weekend. 

Phill was in the Royal Artillery for 12 years, including two tours in Afghanistan, before he was given an honourable discharge on medical grounds.

Phill in uniform

 Phill in uniform during his 12 years in the Royal Artillery 

 He met Roxy in 2016 and they were married last summer, but they had to cancel their honeymoon because Phill was too unwell. Phill has two young children, one from a previous marriage and another with Roxy.

Phill developed ARVC (arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy), which is a disease of the heart muscle, with his health suddenly deteriorating last spring. He was unable to start a new job properly or help around the house with the children and the dog, and everything was left to Roxy, who worked full time.

Roxy said that at first they were given a booklet about the condition and told to carry on as normal, until the effects started to take their toll. 

Phill was fitted with a pacemaker to prevent sudden cardiac death and put on the transplant list, but his condition worsened, and he was admitted to the Bristol Heart Institute. In December, at Roxy’s insistence, he was moved to the Royal Papworth Hospital, a specialist heart and lung hospital, where he suffered multiple organ failure. 

There has been a huge medical effort to keep him alive as he fights hard to get fit enough to be able to have the heart transplant he urgently needs.

Roxy has given up work to be with him.

She said: “I never for one moment thought I would be thinking I’d be hitting my 30’s possibly a widow. It hasn’t changed my love for Phill but it has made life very difficult and stressful. 

"Phill’s illness has meant every little thing has to be thought out.

"The risk of Phill having a heart attack or a cardiac arrest in front of the kids was a constant, something that never leaves the back of your mind. Having our friends there, just a phone call away, at any time, day or night, and still there now, to give me or Phill or even the kids (help) we so desperately need was and is fantastic.

"Having our friends come together to support us with fundraising has truly meant the world to all of us. It has meant we have been able to spend the time as a family at home, it has taken the stress off of my shoulders about where the extra income will come in to support us while Phill can’t work so we can keep a roof over our heads. I will never be able to repay any of them, they are so dear to our hearts. They aren’t just friends, they are family.”

Phill and Roxy

Phill and Roxy at their wedding

Jack Kelley and Bradley Hackett are amongst a group of lifelong friends who have already raised thousands to help with the family’s living costs.

A race night and donations raised £8,500 to pay for living costs last year.

Thousands more have been raised already this year, including more than £1,000 raised by Yate RFC veterans/social side Yate Yaks in a charity rugby match in early January.

The match drew a large crowd and a raffle, donations, sponsorship and an auction took the total raised to £1,005 to help Phill.

Jack and Bradley are now organising at charity football match at Chipping Sodbury Football Club on February 2, to further boost the fundraising. Many of Phill's friends play football as a hobby and Chipping Sodbury Town Football Club have donated their facilities for free.

Jack said: “A small group of Phill’s friends noticed that both he and Roxy were struggling and decided we needed to help in some way. As none of us are doctors or cardiologists, we felt the only way we could help that would make a real difference would be financially through fundraising.

"Our one hope is that Phill with the support of Roxy and Papworth can get fit enough to receive the heart transplant he so desperately needs, make a good recovery, so he can get back to living a normal life and see his young children grow up.”

Brad said: "Phil is a very popular person and everybody who knows him only has good words to say about him. One thing that stands out though is his great sense of humour and the ability to take positives from everything helps him with this.

To donate to help Phill's family, visit the GoFundMe page set up for Phill.