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Charity Supports Brave Royal Marine, Corporal Phillip Eaglesham, as he Fights a Cruel Illness

Three years ago, Corporal Phil Eaglesham contracted an illness known as Q Fever (Helmand Fever) whilst on tour in Afghanistan. Q Fever is an illness which is caused by a bacteria that comes from animals and develops into spores, which are then inhaled. Although the infection has now been treated the after affects are extremely disabling and it has a huge effect on Phillip’s daily and family life. Along with other Naval charities, the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund has recently supported Phillip and his family with a once in lifetime dream holiday and brand new bespoke, adapted accommodation.

Corporal Phil Eaglesham was preparing to leave Camp Bastian, homeward bound after his third operational tour. During this tour Phillip was involved in many incidents including fire fights, encountering improvised explosive devices and a US Pedro Helicopter crash. Throughout the tour he was also tasked as a TRIM Practitioner, supporting colleagues who had been involved with Marines KIA and WIA. On the 2 October 2010 Corporal Phillip Eaglesham fell ill.

“I presumed I had the flu and was told that I would be given something for the symptoms. I spent the majority of the time in my bed, only venturing out when it was absolutely necessary. At this point neither I nor the medics were worried too much.”

Phillip was eventually admitted to hospital in Cyprus, where they had arrived for decompression. He was suspected of having contracted Hepatitis. After five days and feeling slightly better Phillip returned home, landing at RAF Brize Norton he was greeted by a very worried wife and new born baby. Two weeks later with the symptoms still apparent Phillip was admitted to Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.

“I was admitted to Heartlands Hospital for two weeks, at this point I was having headaches, myalgia, arthralgia, fatigue, pleuritic chest pain and severe breathlessness. During this admission a number of tests were performed and it was there that it was confirmed that I had contracted Q Fever.”

For the next few years after his diagnosis, life was a constant struggle for both Phillip and his wife while they not only dealt with the physical challenges but while they came to terms with what was going on. Even the military Doctors hadn’t seen a case of Q Fever before, which made everything much more of a struggle for Phillip as he fought to get support for him and his family. Phillip was able to spend time at Hasler Company and Headley Court, which helped a great deal. However on returning home the work Phillip had done there would have massive effects on his body causing stress to him and his family. 

“Not being able to play with my children affected me more than I could ever explain, not being able to kick a ball about or roll around with them. Even things like playing with lego or building a jigsaw puzzle were difficult, as I got tired and frustrated very quickly. I would get very tired dong the most minor tasks and my wife would have to cook all my meals. I wasn’t able to find the balance between what I could manage against the effect it had on me. I tried to stimulate myself intellectually on a project management course, run by Hasler Company. I had to break every hour and the majority of the time I wasn’t able to pay attention as I was too tired.”

It was August 2013 when Phillip and his family finally got the respite and support they deserved and needed when the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, The C Group (a part of RMCTF) and Go Commando were able to send them on the holiday of a lifetime. It was on this holiday, to Disney World Florida, that Phillip was finally able to have time to concentrate on his children and feel like a proper Dad. Whilst Tyler, Travis and Mason were playing in the pool, going on all the rides and enjoying the excitement of Disney, Phillip and his wife Julie were able to relax and enjoy life in a way that they hadn’t done for so long.

“I don’t think I could actually put into words what this opportunity meant to our whole family. Being able to see my boys happy without a worry or care in the world was great. For Travis it enabled him to be a kid again, without having to worry about helping me. Watching the smiles on their faces in Disney was priceless. Great family memories to come out of some nightmares over the past few years, just gives me the extra drive to keep pushing on and for life not to get me down.”

Back at home Phillip and his family were still facing the struggles of everyday life as living in the accommodation they did was too difficult. For the first 5 months following Phillip’s diagnosis and before they had a stair lift fitted he had to sleep on the sofa downstairs, which caused many problems for both him and Julie. With further support from the RMCTF, Phillip and his family have been able to move into a specially adapted bungalow.

“Moving into the bungalow has given me a lot more independence. Being able to access everywhere in the house, rather than being restricted to two rooms. I can actually get into my children’s rooms and kiss them goodnight, something so simple that we all take for granted but not being able to do that was soul destroying. I can’t even start to tell you the difference it has made to my wife. She is the one who cares for me herself and the children single handed. She has been given part of her life back by being able to leave me at home while she pops out, without the worry of me falling. A bespoke house which is already adapted as I deteriorate is priceless to us.”

“I am really lost for words with the support the RMCTF has shown my family, thank you just isn’t enough. Nothing I could write would ever be enough to explain how grateful, honoured and humbled I am and forever will be. The RMCTF has given us a life to look forward to, rather than one that brings nightmares. I could go on but I could never do it justice.”

Thank you for the opportunity for me and my family to go and have the experience of a holiday in Orlando. I had lots of fun. Me and my family went to lots of places. We went to lots of Disney parks and went on a lot of rides. Thank you for helping us.

Travis Eaglesham, age 10

Thank you for letting us go on holiday to Florida. I had the best time ever.

Tyler Eaglesham, age 6

Thanks go to the Naval charities who supported these grants along with the RMCTF.The Royal Navy Royal Marines CharityGo Commando and Royal Navy Royal Marines Children's Fund.