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On stage, the guitarist who defied death

Singer given 15 minutes to live stars at festival after beating cancer

04 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch

David Martin on stage during the Clock Tower Festival

A GUITARIST who was “15 minutes from death” following complications from cancer treatment bounced back to play his first gig in Caledonian Park on Sunday.

Country music fan David Martin, 65, was diagnosed with bowel cancer 10 months ago and suffered a severe blood infection which nearly took his life.

Between the initial diagnosis and getting the cancer all-clear three weeks ago, the former maintenance worker at St Paul’s Cathedral was rushed twice to hospital in an ambulance – on one occasion his parents were told by doctors to hurry to his bedside.

“The consultant at the hospital told us: ‘He is very, very close to death’,” said Mr Martin’s 88-year-old father Albert.

Mr Martin, who lives off Caledonian Road, spent 21 nights in all in the hospital’s emergency ward. His first period was in January after he suffered a bad reaction to chemotherapy and was too weak to get out of bed for a week.

The second time was two months ago when he had a severe blood infection and his weight plummeted to just 8st.

“In January, we got a phone call at 2.15am telling us he was in a bad way and to come to the hospital,” said Mr Martin’s 82-year-old mother Mary.

Exactly 12 hours earlier she had had “a strange” experience as she sat in her living room. “I just closed my eye for a few seconds and the whole room lit up in a bright light,” she said.

“I don’t know if there’s a connection with the time. I wanted to believe it was the right message that he was going to make it.”

Mr Martin said of his time in hospital: “The pain was terrible. Doctors at Whittington Hospital saved my life. I am so lucky to be here, getting back to what I like doing.”

He loves playing hit songs from the 1960s, and performed his first public gig after his illness at the Clock Tower Festival in Caledonian Park at the weekend.

He said: “I like it when I see the audience joining in. I like them to enjoy it as well as me. It’s about the music.”

Playing his guitar and singing is helping him recover from the stresses of a long illness, he believes. “You feel good but a bit strange, sitting here thinking: ‘Well, you weren’t going to be sitting here.’ It gets on your mind. But playing music, you get into a different zone,” he said.

Mr Martin started to play the guitar when he was around seven. He honed his skills in a skiffle band at his school in Holborn and when he was in his 20s joined a Caledonian Road band called the Decoys.

Speaking of life after cancer, Mr Martin says he is now a lot more relaxed. “I don’t rush any more. I don’t run for the bus and I’ll wait for the next one. I was so stressed out before,” he said.

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