How writing a book about his grandfather almost killed Warwick man

A Warwick man thought writing a book about his grandfather's life would be easy - but it almost killed him.

Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 4:56 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:29 am
Martin Greenwood almost died in the process of writing a book about his grandfather Percy Monkman

Martin Greenwood, 71, of Stratford Road, started to write a biography in 2016 about his grandfather Percy Monkman, an entertainer and artist who was known by almost everybody in his hometown of Bradford.

But during his research, Martin was placed in intensive care for 11 days after experiencing severe breathing difficulties and an asthma attack.

Percy kept an extensive record of documents and press clippings regarding his achievements, which Martin used to write his book. The material was kept in Martin’s attic.

But while he was looking through the documents, Martin had unknowingly inhaled spores which had remained dormant inside the paper for around 100 years, which caused the severe reaction.

Martin said: “I had absolutely no idea at all. After Christmas in 2016, I took my grandchildren to the park but I could hardly breathe.

“I’ve never smoked and keep myself fit, so I never thought that this might happen.”

Later in January 2017, Martin had breathing problems again. His wife Jenny drove him to hospital after he rang the non-emergency number 111.

Martin added: “I remember arriving at the hospital, and then I woke up six days later. They put me in an induced coma.

“Apparently 12 people came to visit me in 12 hours. It took me a while to work out what was happening when I came round.”

Martin was able to recover after a while, but doctors did not realise what the cause of Martin’s breathing problems were.

So he returned to writing his book, thinking there was no harm in looking at the documents again.

But in November 2017, Martin had problems again. He went to his GP who said there was no problem, but by 8pm that day he could hardly walk.

Jenny once again drove him to hospital, and she also made the connection between Martin looking at his grandfather’s material and his health problems.

Martin did not suffer as badly as the first time, and was able to finish the book, entitled: Percy Monkman: An Extraordinary Bradfordian.

He added: “My granddad would have been tickled pink with the book, but upset with the health hazard that his documents inadvertently created.

“If I had known this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have written it.”