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A WORLD War II veteran from Peebles has been given new lease of life by a pilot project in Tweeddale following his treatment for cancer.

John McOwan was diagnosed with bladder cancer three years ago.

After undergoing treatment the 96-year-old was feeling a “bit low” and was referred to the new Reablement Project.

The pioneering scheme helps people to live as independent a life as possible in their local community following treatment for cancer by providing practical, tailored, one-to-one support.

As well as recovering from the effects of his treatment John was also suffering from age-related problems with sight and hearing.

But he was still keen to continue living independently.

Following a visit by an occupational therapist and a British Red Cross Neighbourhood Links Coordinator, contact was made with the Linburn Centre for the War Blinded in Edinburgh.

He now visits the centre every week where he does swimming, archery and painting - and has even enjoyed a flight in a glider.

John told the Peeblesshire news: "The help they have given me has given me a new lease of life, boosting my confidence and giving me companionship with others of my own generation.

“After the trauma of cancer, if you're on your own, you don't have people to talk about it to or share your problems.

"I suppose I was a bit low as most people are.

“I also suffered a bit with depression in the past, especially after my wife died, and this project has given me a lot more confidence.

"The quality of my life has really improved a lot. I'm more outgoing than I was a year ago.

“It's been very, very helpful indeed and I feel it is such a pity there are so many older people in particular who haven’t the capacity to connect with the help available.

"There is so much out there that would improve the quality of their lives.”

The Reablement Project is a joint initiative between Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS Borders, British Red Cross, Scottish Borders Council and Fit Borders.

It is funded by Macmillan as part of the charity’s Scotland-wide Transforming Care After Treatment (TCAT) programme.

As well as regular visits to the Lindburn Centre John has been given various aids to help him live at home, including a talking watch and a special screen to watch TV.

He is also being taught how to use an iPad so he can shop from home.

Reablement Project coordinator Angela Davidson told us: “The project is about what is important to each individual.

“People are not always aware of what support is available to them locally, and having this central point of contact really helps.

“After some people have finished their treatment, they can feel quite isolated.

"We work to support them and build their confidence to move on. The services available can range from information about local services to practical support.”

The Reablement Project is available to anyone in the Tweeddale area who has had a cancer diagnosis, regardless of the type of cancer, treatment, or stage in their cancer journey.

To find out more, contact the Tweeddale social care and health team on 01721 726355.