Should this man have the right to die? 'Every day I wake up disappointed that I haven't died'
A TEASPOONFUL of liquid morphine when the pain becomes unbearable and the occasional glass of water is all George Martin allows himself to consume.
The 86-year-old stopped eating two weeks ago.
Although he was only recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, the retired chartered accountant has been ill for the past two years.
Sitting in his living room, in a voice barely audible, the father-of-four – who now weighs only six stone – explained his abstinence.
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"I want to die," he said. "Every morning I wake up disappointed I haven't.
"I am of sound mind, I have loved my life, and feel very proud of many things, not least my family, but now I want to be allowed to die with dignity."
Mr Martin wants someone to be able to help him die without getting into trouble. However, anyone who helped him would be breaking the law, as defined by an Act passed in 1961.
Mr Martin, an atheist, blames what he calls a "collective religious ideology" which has prevented the issue of assisted suicide from being debated, and he does not want others to suffer in the same way he has.
"Under present law I am sentenced to die through starvation," he said.
"That is not what I wish, or want, or should expect from a civilised society. No dog would be thus treated.
"Who benefits in these circumstances? Not me, nor my wonderful family, not the NHS who are incurring costs to no end – and what for? Where is the compassion in making me suffer?"
As he spoke these words his daughter Sara Martin, 49, comforted him by holding his hand.
She said: "There are members of my family who would not agree with dad's decisions, but it's dad's decision and that's the important point.
"He is more than capable of making his own decisions, he's incredibly intelligent."
Wanting to die, in the event of terminal disease, is not a frame of mind Mr Martin has adopted because of his current circumstances.
Back in 2004 he made a 'living will' following advice from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and in it he documents his desire to refuse medicine should he ever be taken seriously ill.
Mr Martin, who now requires 24-hour care, has diligently updated this will with his signature every year, as evidence that his resolve remains unchanged. "I have become a drain on my family and I want to go as soon as possible," he said.
Mr Martin fought for his country in the Fleet Air Arm from February 1944 until October 1946.
He served in Malta and revisited the country in November 2003, where he swam with dolphins.
The self-made man was brought up in a deprived area of Elephant and Castle, London, and witnessed his fair share of tragedy, not least the death of two of his children – Keith Martin and Shelagh Whiting – and he could only watch as his beloved wife Mary Martin died 21 years ago, at the age of 64, from a brain tumour.
"The last weeks of her life were awful, really awful," he said.
In some other European countries Mr Martin's request would be granted.
Switzerland houses the Dignitas clinic which was set up in 1998 and helps people to kill themselves.
More than 200 Britons have ended their lives there, but Mr Martin says he can't afford the £7,000 fee.
"I can't afford it, but why should I have to," he said.
"What I want is for people to have a proper and informed debate on the issue.
"This is why I am doing this, to prick people's conscience, and I thank the Nottingham Post for publishing this story."
Mr Martin, of Palmerstone Street, Westwood, near Selston, has written to the Department of Health in a last-ditch attempt to tell the people in power of his plight.
His reply read: "The Government believes that any change to the law in this emotive and contentious area is an issue of individual conscience and a matter for Parliament to decide rather than Government policy.
"The Suicide Act 1961 made it an offence to encourage or assist the suicide or attempted suicide of another person."
In a video clip which can be viewed on thisisnottingham.co.uk Mr Martin set out the basis for his argument.
He said: "I am doing this because I think Christianity has failed the nation.
"They have lost all compassion and I would like to see other people treated differently from me.
"I have done no harm in my life. I just want away."