A HELENSBURGH man has thanked the local community after kind-hearted residents raised enough money to buy him an electric wheelchair.

Andrew Walsh’s plight, highlighted in the Advertiser in May, persuaded June McMurdo and Margaret MacInnes to set up an online fund-raiser and organise an event at the town’s Ashton Bar, with the backing of several other local businesses to raise money to help him get his independence back.

Andrew went along to the Ashton this week to say a personal thank you to everyone who supported the fund-raising effort.

We reported that the 51-year-old double amputee had found himself unable to leave his home in Helensburgh without assistance because he didn’t have the energy to operate his manual wheelchair.

Andrew had the bottom half of both his legs amputated in August 2017 due to blood circulation issues as a result of his diabetes.

His mobility problems were exacerbated by the ruling of the NHS’s West of Scotland Mobility and Rehabilitation Centre (WestMARC) in Glasgow, who decided on two occasions that Andrew did not meet the criteria to be provided with an electric wheelchair.

A further appeal to another wheelchair service, the SMART Centre in Edinburgh, was also unsuccessful.

Andrew, who presented bouquets of flowers to both June and Margaret, told the Advertiser: “I just wanted to show my appreciation.

“I would never have got it any other way apart from it being in the paper and local people donating money.

“I would also like to thank the Advertiser, because without the article none of this would have happened.”

Since our initial story in May, Andrew has received a kidney transplant, and is currently recovering from the operation.

And though he’s still waiting for a pancreas transplant, he says his quality of life is significantly better than it was just a few short weeks ago.

“My whole life is changing now,” he added. “The chair is the final bit of the jigsaw.

“I’m on steroids after the operation but I’m feeling a lot better.

“Getting the wheelchair now is perfect timing.”

June and Margaret set themselves the target of raising £2,000 for Andrew, but they comfortably exceeded their goal and managed to raise £2,765, meaning Andrew can also buy accessories for his chair including a waterproof rain cover.

Andrew and his sister Esther Jones are planning to go shopping for the chair next week.

“They sent me a catalogue so I’ve been having a look,” he explained, “but you need to go to get sized and weighed.

“But I have seen a few that would be suitable.

“My family are all happy for me.

“They would do anything I asked them to do, but this is going to make a big, big difference.”

June, the owner of the Ashton hosted a night of live music to raise money.

Local musicians Hazel Simpson and Alistair Crichton performed at the event and guests were treated to delicious food from the Buffet Shop.

“It was amazing,” June told the Advertiser. “It was a really busy night.

“I couldn’t thank the local businesses enough – they all chipped in.

“The Buffet Shop really did us proud. Everyone commented on how good the food was and there was plenty for everyone.

“I would like to say thanks to RS McColl’s for putting out a tin because they raised £200. It was great.

“And the performers, Hazel Simpson and Alistair Crichton, gave up their own time. Everyone pulled together.”