Remember Robbie Henry, whose story we shared a couple of weeks ago? Well, we managed to catch up with him last week at the Focus Centre in Galashiels, to find out how he was doing and what he has been getting up to!
He told us that in 2013 Marie Barton, his Life Style Adviser, suggested that he join Walkit which is a Scottish Borders Paths to Health walk project.
Unfortunately, shortly after receiving his Leader certificate Robbie began to feel unwell with chest and back pain, he was referred to the Royal Infirmary for a triple bypass and had to stay in hospital for 5 weeks before getting back to his home.
Recovery normally would take around 6 months, however, due to the healthy lifestyle changes he has made and the coordination, support and rehabilitation of care received from Marie, NHS Borders, his recovery was much quicker and he was back enjoying the things he likes most within 4 months.
Mr Henry now leads 3 walking groups a week which are leisurely paced and last for around 2 hours. GP practices in the area are very good at signposting patients to Walkit. Participants include a variety of people – some who just need a bit confidence to get out and mix with others, people who have learning difficulties and newly retired people who find they now have the time to go a nice long walk.
Before each walk, Mr Henry carries out a full risk assessment to check that the walk will be suitable for the group that day – taking into account any special needs and making reasonable adjustments to time and so on. At the moment he is actively trying to build up Walkit in other areas by putting posters up around the town to encourage people to give it a go.
Mr Henry laughed when he told us that “his boots only last 6 months now!” –some people can have them for 3 years. He clearly loves every minute of being a Walkit leader. He said that it gives him a good feeling “when he looks around and everyone is chatting and looks happy”.
We managed to meet some of the members of the group for a coffee following their morning walk. We asked them “What did they like about being part of the group?”
They told us that not only was walking keeping them fit it also provided them with a safe environment to meet new friends who all look out for each other “when someone doesn’t turn up then we will make enquiries to find out if they are okay”. Taking part also opens up a lot of new interests and most importantly it “was a great way to find out what’s going on in Galashiels!”
Mr Henry went on to talk about his allotments and explained that he now takes any extra produce (tomatoes, tatties etc) to a local shop who then sells them on for charity. He has also been busy helping a neighbour to dig his garden up and since then a couple of others have asked for his help too.
But it doesn’t end there – just recently he has been awarded the job of supplying the hanging baskets in the High Street, Galashiels for 2016. He has joined a Garden Centre Club and has recently purchased a new greenhouse. His nephew will be helping him to lay the foundations.
Mr Henry told us that he is very rarely at the doctors and his health “couldn’t be better”. People comment on how much energy he has. He is “off Marie’s books” as he put it, but she still keeps in touch with him. He has now become an expert in managing his health, but he knows when to contact his doctor if need be.
“I’m up at 5 am every morning, and I’m never idle!” – What a remarkable man!