Comedian Jon Richardson discusses 'extraordinary' friendship with muscular dystrophy fundraising hero Martin Hywood
Comedian Jon Richardson has opened up about his extraordinary friendship with a man who lives with a very rare muscle-wasting condition.
Jon met Martin Hywood, 47, at a Leeds United game some years ago, and the pair immediately hit it off.
Huge Leeds United fan 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.
While Jon, 38, enjoys a life in the limelight, Martin has spent more than a year shielding amid the coronavirus pandemic because he is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
During this period, he has tragically lost the ability to walk as his muscles have further wasted.
Jon said the pair first met at Elland Road and hit it off immediately.
He said Leeds United fans have seen the team go 'through the good times and bad' - something he likened as a metaphor to Martin's approach to life.
Jon said: “Martin and I first met at the football, like proper lads. 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 70th 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.”
The duo has now released an appeal on BBC Radio 4, asking the public to donate to Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) in a bid to help the charity recoup vital funds to continue its crucial work.
Last year, MDUK’s income plummeted by £2.4m overnight as the country went into lockdown and the charity’s calendar of in-person fundraising events was cancelled.
Jon and Martin’s amusing - yet heartfelt - appeal can be heard on the BBC website.
Jon added: “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”.
Martin said: “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, who tragically lost the ability to walk during lockdown because of months spend shielding inside, added: “I will not stop shouting about this until I see a treatment or cure in my lifetime.
"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.”