TWO former soldiers from Barrhead have told how a free support programme for veterans is boosting their health and wellbeing.

James McEwan and David Martin are benefitting from exercise, nutrition and fitness training in the programme run by East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure (ERCL) – the first leisure trust in Scotland to offer such support for veterans.

David, who served in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012, was discharged from the Army in September 2015 due to a brain injury after he was involved in a car crash.

He told the Barrhead News: “Going to the gym and doing yoga every week has been great for my physical fitness and for boosting my mental health too and makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing for my wellbeing.

“I’ve lost two-and-a-half stones to date, thanks to a combination of good diet and exercise.”
Next door neighbour James joined the Army in 1972 and served in Northern Ireland.

He said: “Coming to the gym, playing badminton with a friend or going for a swim is good therapy.

“Veterans stick together, so David and I keep an eye out for each other, and I’m also part of a new peer support groups for veterans which has just started at the Barrhead Foundry.”

ERCL’s Health for Heroes programme gives former members of the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force a free gym and fitness membership, with access to one-to-one and group sessions.

This includes unlimited access to ERCL’s gyms, pools, fitness classes and health suites at each of their four East Renfrewshire locations.

East Renfrewshire Council’s veterans support advisor Jane Duncan, who was a warrant officer and served in the Army for 22 years, has witnessed first-hand the positive impact the initiative can have.

She said: “This project is such a great example of collaborative working at the highest level.”