A MAN who has had possibly the worst year ever with Covid, pericarditis, falling down the stairs, a coma and now epilepsy has found a message of hope.

After a "horrendous" year, Robert Doherty, aged 37, found a pebble inscribed with an encouraging message that has given him "the boost" he needed.

Robert contracted Covid-19 in February and was then later diagnosed with pericarditis - painful inflammation around his heart - which was thought to be a form of long Covid.

Then in March as he was trying to manoeuvre his bicycle up the stairs to his flat he fell backwards down 13 steps which landed him in ICU in a coma for four days.

A few months later, in May, Robert experienced a large seizure that put him back in hospital for another 10 days. The doctors said that he had developed epilepsy due to his fall.

The Argus: Robert's year has been a struggle after contracting Covid, pericarditis, falling down the stairs, in a coma and then being diagnosed with epilepsy.

Despite this series of unfortunate events Robert felt his luck had changed when he found an inscribed pebble on Worthing beach.

The pebble has "you are so strong" painted across it and he said it was just what he needed to see.

"Of all the people and all the pebbles, I found it. If you knew the year I've had you would understand how much it means."

"I've had the most horrendous year this year and the last few months have been a struggle but when I found it, it was like a sign," said Robert.

Robert, originally from Liverpool, moved to Worthing four years ago and worked as a shop manager.

Currently, he is unable to work due to seizures and is awaiting his medications to be arranged.

Robert is grateful that someone has taken the time to paint the message on the pebble: "It's such a lovely thing to do, especially in these weird times I guess there's a lot of people struggling and the beach is somewhere you can go to realise there are lots of beautiful things in life.

"That's what I focused on, I got through it and the pebble felt like a sign that told me things can get better, no matter how tough things get."

The Argus: Worthing beach has been presented with the Seaside Award from Keep Britain Tidy

He said he discovered that there is a group who write on the pebbles on the beach and leave them for people to find.

"It might seem so little but to someone who has struggled it means a lot."

Pebble painting is trend that has been around for a few years, Megan Murphy began a project in 2016 in the US called the "The Kindness Rocks Project".

The project asked people to paint rocks to leave in public places for others to find: "One message at just the right moment can change your whole day, outlook and life."

A UK-based Facebook group called Love on the Rocks was started in 2017 by Vicki Poledoles Stansfield, from Essex, and now has over 64,000 members.

Robert hopes that his own experience will provide others with "some hope in challenging times."