Lucky to be alive

Rowland Hill Fund – Martin was close to death twice and now suffers with ‘long Covid’

Since the beginning of the pandemic our in-house charity, the Rowland Hill Fund (RHF), has seen many more applications for financial assistance than usual, with varying degrees of help needed.

The Fund has helped a number of colleagues who have had to stay at home due to coronavirus and are currently on either no pay or half pay because they are unable to work, and furlough is not an option. This may also apply to their partners and/or other members of their households. 

In these cases, the RHF has been making weekly charitable donations to colleagues until the current situation changes. In addition, the Fund will continue to provide support for other financial challenges, such as bill arrears, mortgage payments, rent, disability aids for adults and children, funeral expenses and more.

Martin’s story

Postman of 27 years, Martin Sykala, from Wellingborough Delivery Office, is currently receiving help from the Fund with his mortgage.

Martin was hospitalised with Covid-19 in May. He left hospital 11 weeks later after being close to death twice. He was ventilated, put in an induced coma, and given experimental methods of treatment. He will be given further new treatments as time goes on.

Martin is now suffering from ‘long Covid’ and suffers from badly damaged lungs, which leave him breathless after minimal activity and with severe muscle pain for which he is prescribed morphine when needed. Martin is extremely grateful to be alive and although he doesn’t know how long his condition will last, he is determined to return to work in January.

‘If it wasn't for the experimental drug I was given I wouldn’t be here today,’ said Martin. ‘I never had any symptoms of Covid, just a painful stomach. Muscle aches are the new norm for me. As my lungs are now scarred like a map of the London Underground, what works is good, but I don’t have enough lung tissue to keep me moving, so I suffer from constant fatigue. My mind says "I can do it" my body, otherwise.

‘I’m lucky to be alive. I have two care bubbles, one with my partner who had to go back to her own home – we've been together for over 11 years, but we both enjoy our homes – so at the weekend, I drive to hers. And the other with my close friends, come family, who I've known for more than 30 years. They cook my meals in the evening – something I struggle to do as I get so tired even doing something as basic as peeling veg.

‘For exercise, I walk and try to do some gardening. I’ve rekindled my old hobby of stamp collecting. It keeps my mind occupied. I get brain fog, I forget things, and everything is so slow.

‘I’m getting better slowly, but the slowness seems to take forever. When I came out of hospital, I needed help to walk and I couldn’t use stairs, so I needed constant looking after by my partner and the hospital. Things are starting to ease now. I’m getting better, and I hope to return to work in January.’

The RHF is an independent registered charity, here to help our employees, pensioners and their dependents with financial and other assistance in times of need. The Fund offers support for short-term and long-term financial and health challenges and for when the unexpected happens.

For more information on how the Fund can offer financial help to colleagues, Royal Mail Group pensioners and their families, call the confidential helpline on 0345 600 4586.

25 Nov 2020