Nicki catches up with Jim Fergusson, one of our activity referral clients and a founding influence in the Letham Centre, now known as Live Active Letham.

I received one of those wonderful emails the other day; you know the sort. One where a customer wants to chat to you, unprompted, and heap loads of praise on the amazing team you stand alongside.  Never one to pass up a chance to chat about the wonder that is LAL, I called him for a chat.  The story that followed is one of those great tales of serendipity that sums up why Live Active Leisure is so, so much more than gyms and pools.

Jim Fergusson was referred to a physiotherapist by his GP after being diagnosed with COPD.  When he was a young boy he had contracted pneumonia and this left an infection in his lungs.  As he turned 30 medics removed lobes within his lungs and now, at 75, he is living with the long term consequences of this. 

After a few weeks of physio, he was asked if he’d like to be ‘prescribed’ a regular exercise class that would give him the support he needed to help his breathing moving forward. Jim jumped at the chance and he was referred to Live Active Leisure via his physio.

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Regular readers will know that the LAL’s Activity Referral Programme supports people in their efforts to become more active by linking doctors’ surgeries or health care practitioners with their local Live Active Leisure venues. The programme's main focus is to allow those who need it, to become more active in order to see long term changes in their health or medical condition.

This is done through a simple 12 week programme and helps inactive adults (16 years +) with any of the following: Depression or other mental health issues, weight problems or obesity (BMI greater than 25), high blood pressure, muscular / skeletal conditions, neurological conditions, pulmonary conditions - including COPD,  like Jim.

Jim was referred to Letham Centre under the watchful eye of Marcin and began his regular Referral Classes.

“I was sent to Live Active Letham and started the classes with young Marcin – he’s a great guy! I really did get a lot of encouragement and I feel I was pushed just a little bit more every time. It was a huge benefit being part of a class that worked to my level but that was small enough for us all to get the attention we needed to move us on.

I used to be a councillor at one time and together with a man called David White I was part of the original team at Letham Centre. David got it built, he badgered the chief exec of the council relentlessly at the time, and we all helped run it and get it off the ground.

We ran football teams and a youth club and in fact, Fiona Melloy one of the Live Active managers today, was one of our first members of staff.  We didn’t have the full expertise to move it forward though and I’m very pleased we were able to hand it to Live Active Leisure who I think are extremely good at what they do.”

Jim has been through the Activity Referral Programme for the full 12 weeks and is about to move over to a full membership.  He tells me that exercise has improved his health and his life, and that he looks forward to continuing.

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“When you can’t breathe you’re restricted in lots of things; it’s that simple.  As you get older you have less physical strength and finding a way to start things off at a suitable ability level and work from there is a great thing.  It’s made a huge difference to my quality of life and that means it’s also a very good thing for my mental health.

I’m a volunteer for Age Scotland and help out the local organiser for the East Coast so it’s good to stay tuned in to everything that’s going on and know what’s out there for older people.  We like to encourage a social aspect to keeping healthy and we work with NHS and other community groups to encourage people to stay involved.

I’m passionate that people keep mobile and as fit as they can at all ages. It’s about mind and body – you have to keep it all going!”

You see, life has a funny way of returning your good deeds and I find it heart-warming that man who served his community is now reaping the benefits of the legacy he helped to create.  If you, or someone you know, would like to find out more about the LAL Activity Referral Programme or Age Scotland follow the links below.

FIND OUT MORE: Live Active Leisure Activity Referral Programme.

AGE SCOTLAND:  http://www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland/