It’s a message straight from the heart.

Sheepridge man Martin Folan, 61, has spoken in praise of the National Health Service after undergoing major surgery to repair a hole in his heart.

The veteran fundraiser for Kirkwood Hospice – who had previously only been to hospital casualty for sports injuries and never had to stay overnight – spoke about the “fantastic treatment” he received right from the moment his heart problem was diagnosed.

Martin had visited the Grange Practice at Fartown back in June complaining of breathlessness, where nurse practitioner Alan Howe realised it could be heart-related.

Following an echocardiogram in June, Martin was admitted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and then to Calderdale Royal Hospital before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary. On July 23, Martin underwent an operation at LGI to repair a hole in his heart. Five days after the operation led by consultant Mr Kalyana Javangula, Martin was discharged from hospital and allowed home.

Said Martin: “I owe everything to Alan and the skillful care of surgeon Mr Javangula and his team.

“Alan’s a lovely lad. He spotted there might be a problem with my heart.

Martin Folan of Sheepridge, Champions the NHS for it's great work and service after his open heart surgery. Pictured with his grandson Coley Folan and his son Andrew's stepdaughter Macey Hyland

“I am a fairly fit lad, I play golf and all my life I have been fairly sporting. I have never smoked and I have never had trouble before with anything. I went for a scan and they spotted a hole in my heart. They think I had a major heart attack but didn’t realise it and carried on working and everything else.”

Martin said: “We have a history of heart problems in the family, so while it was a shock, it wasn’t a massive shock.”

Speaking about his experience of the NHS, he said: “I had never been in hospital overnight in my life. I’d been in for a couple of sporting injuries. Everyone from the porters and the cleaners to the nurses and the doctors were absolutely fantastic. I cannot praise everyone highly enough.

“The NHS gets some stick, but I wanted to give it some good publicity. The care and attention I received was second to none – compassion, understanding and a feeling that I really mattered.”

Martin has been told he cannot go back to his job laying concrete floors, but he hopes to resume playing golf in the spring and plans to do more voluntary work for the hospice at Dalton.

“I have to be careful and I will be on medication for the rest of my life, but I have been lucky,” he said.

Martin Folan, of SHeepridge, who underwent open heart surgery, with grandson Coley and the Tin Man - who got a heart

Martin and his wife Linda have two sons, Andrew and Darren. Martin has organised an annual golf day for the hospice at Bradley Park Golf Club for the past 12 years, raising more than £80,000 for Kirkwood. “My sister and brother-in-law both passed away at Kirkwood Hospice,” he said.

“Last year, we had 160 golfers at Bradley Park for a full day of golf, food and entertainment.”

A few weeks after coming out of hospital, Martin was walking past an antique shop when he spotted a “must have” item.

“I saw this Tin Man and I decided it would be appropriate.”

The Tin Man, who only ever wanted a heart, now has pride of place at Martin’s Wiggan Lane home – where he’s popular with Martin’s grandson Coley Folan, four, and Andrew’s stepdaughter Macey Hyland, 14.