Bit of news from me

Martin Garner


A bit of news.  Some folk will be aware that my health took an interesting turn this year.  As I would normally be at the Arctic Gullfest in Varanger and this year at the inaugural Champions of the Flyway bird race in Israel I hope some information is helpful.  Especially I don’t want friends who already know what’s happened, having to struggle to ‘explain’ to others. So …


After a couple of months of acute pain from mid-December and a week’s stint in hospital with the wrong diagnosis – five weeks ago I marched into the local doctors to insist on an MRI scan – Valentine ’s Day 14th Feb.  The MRI scan showed up a tumour (presumed cancer) which had produced a crushed vertebrae and was sat on the spinal cord. That explained the ouch!  The presenting issue besides the big C was damage to the nervous system.  Remember never give a bloke with a big mouth a good story!!  Several days of weighing odds and uncertainty as to best course of action, I had a biopsy and soon after my legs started to go and I was unable to walk, so a decision was quickly made for spinal surgery (secure the spine, protect spinal cord, remove good chunk of tumour).


3 weeks in hospital on a bit of a roller coaster ride. I’ve been home a week and a ½ now.

Local like Rich Baines soon had me out and a hobbling around North Marsh at Flamborough

Local like Rich Baines soon had me out and a hobbling around North Marsh at Flamborough

I have a very treatable form of cancer- as an outpatient I’ll just get treated and monitored.  I am also bionic now!! I have metal screws and rods in my spine and the bigger job is just getting the muscles and nerves all rebooted and working again – and that’s progressing well.  This afternoon I walked from the Flamborough car park to the Fog Horn station with local birding mate Phil C.   We dipped a Black Redstart but found a windblown Chiffchaff – my first of the spring!  So I won’t be going far from East Yorkshire of the next few months as I undergo rehab and recovery. You can imagine it’s going to be tough as East coast spring migration steps up (Baikal Teal and Iberian Chiffchaff headlined this time last year)!


Of course it’s been a shocking time for family and close friends but at the same time there has been some wonderful ‘gold’ in the midst of the crap and scary stuff that I wouldn’t have missed.  We feel hugely loved and supported.  Sharon and I and our girls are more aware of how precious family, community and friendships are.  Some pretty cool things are going on- with and in spite of us.

Meanwhile whilst I can’t make it to two of my favourite events this year, I’m cheering on the Gullfest in Varanger and a Birding Frontiers team of Roger, Adam and Paul will hopefully make waves in Israel. Meanwhile I have lots of time to write a new ‘Birding Frontiers book’ and I already have new plans for the summer and autumn…


One other thing. We were all extremely and continually impressed with the NHS staff. Castle Hill Hospital, Hull is where was treated most and continue as an outpatient. Flippin, utterly amazing. My very lovely sister Helen has decided to raise money for this hospital. Helen has her own health stuff so its inspiring she is going for the 24 hours 3 peaks  challenge with Evolution Outdoors. If you would like to know more and give a little that goes towards to the work at this cancer unit, I’d be chuffed for Helen and  delighted for the folk who Castle Hill for whom there are simply not enough superlatives.


 >>>> 24 Hours 3 Peaks Challenge by Helen Garner <<<<




30 thoughts on “Bit of news from me

    1. Capt. Dave O'brien

      Martin. Times like this is when our faith goes into action. Bless you Brother. Just thinking of you I’m filled with His grace. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Much Love. Capt. Dave O’Brien x

  1. James Spencer

    You are in safe hands at Castle Hill. They did wonders for my father. All the best to you and the clan.

  2. Mike Buckland

    A great reminder of what is really important. Keep positive and mend soon. Love and support to your friends and family. Varanger will be there next year! Positive thoughts with you all.

  3. Ken Tucker

    Wishing you well in your recovery, Martin. Glad you’re on the mend and managing to get out again. Stay safe and take care of yourself. Love and best wishes to you and all the family.

  4. Peter Wilkinson

    Good luck, Martin. You don’t say exactly what cancer, but I’m assuming from your description it probably wasn’t a chordoma. My wife, Carol, was diagnosed with a chordoma six and a half years ago. Very rare, 20 cases or so a year in this country, and with her tumour inside L3 the rarest of the rare. It’s been hard on her left leg, and is now causing weakness in her right leg. Being so rare, every case is different, of course, and we have to face the future with as much fortitude as we can muster. You clearly have plenty of people rooting for you, which is great! Regards, Peter

  5. Andrew

    Very pleased you are making such good progress. A loving family is priceless at times like this. I hope you manage to push on with the book and get back onto the normal schedule later this year or next.

  6. Gonebirding

    Hey Martin, blimey you’ve had a tough time, but so glad to hear things are progressing positively! Having experience of spinal ops through my husband I know just how much it means each time you get that little bit further on a walk…

    best wishes to you and the family and take care,

    Steph’ Thorpe

  7. Tommy Pedersen

    I’ll fly you to Vadsø next year, Martin! The biggest worry I can see on the horizon is getting through the airport security with all that expensive metal in your body

  8. Colin Butters

    Best wishes to you and your family and for your recovery. Still trying to get to grips with the Spoonbilll bill patterns that I mentioned to you at the BirdFair last year. Regards Colin Butters

  9. Stuart Elsom

    Martin, Very relieved to hear that you’re making progress and of course you’re in our thoughts as time progresses. You’re a strong bloke with a very strong family bond – 2 essential factors in your continuing recovery. Best Wishes and see you at Birdfair. Stu

  10. Nadav Israeli

    In Hebrew we say “complete health”. May your health be complete soon and hope to see you back at the Hula in the autumn.
    Warm regards from Israel, Nadav

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Thanks Jon- you did well, hard enough getting photos of snipe on Shetland- that one is pretty convincing for faeroeensis

  11. Pingback: Thank YOU! | Birding Frontiers

  12. Janneke Kimstra

    Phew, that was quite a scare! Very glad to read you’re up and about. I raise a glass to seeing you next year on Gullfest!

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Thanks Anne- much appreciated. we are doing well now at Flamborough- much improved. YOU are always welcome to call by



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