A SERIOUSLY ill Port Glasgow man who suffers from life-threatening heart and kidney problems says the award-winning Back Home hospital box project has given him a reason to live.

William Weir, 52, was forced to stop working five years ago after he was diagnosed with serious heart condition cardiomyopathy and diabetes.

As a result he had to give up the two pet shops he had built up in Greenock and Port Glasgow, as well as his full time job as an IT engineer.

He told the Tele he was saved when he started volunteering with Compassionate Inverclyde after being moved by being given his own hospital box on leaving the ward after treatment.

William, who lives on his own, said :"It was devastating when I was told that I was too ill to work anymore. I had been feeling dizzy and I went to my doctors.

"When the test results came back the doctor was so worried that he actually came to my house to chap the door. My blood sugars were through the roof and I had a heart condition.

"It came out of the blue but they reckon I had the conditions for some time."

William, from Springhill Road, was forced to change his life overnight, giving up a job he loved travelling around the country as an IT engineer.

He added: "It was something I really enjoyed. I also loved the pet shops, talking to people all day about their animals. I missed the chat and company."

But two years ago the Port Glasgow community councillor found Compassionate Inverclyde and started volunteering.

He is now the Back Home Box co-ordinator, helping oversee the 30 boxes handed out in Inverclyde Royal every week and the hundreds of donations handed in.

The former businessman said: "It has given me a reason to go on, something to live for. I have a reason to get up in the morning again.

"It is very humbling to see the difference it makes.

"It gets me out the house and I am giving something back. I am too ill to go around the wards but I am in the background helping and working away."

Last year William, who is facing up to spending the rest of his life on dialysis, ended up in hospital with chest pains caused by complications with diabetes.

He has also had experience of the receiving the back home box and it changed his life.

William said: "I live on my own and I was in hospital last year. It made all the difference in the world to go home, knowing that someone had taken the time to write you a card, make you a blanket and they were thinking of you.

"It is a very special feeling and to be involved in doing that for someone else is great.

"To go home knowing there was coffee and a biscuit waiting was comforting."

William was recently at the Waterfront Cinema to accept hundreds of donations from the Inverclyde Childminders' Association.

The charity had benefited from a recent event where families can watch a film for free, in exchange for Back Home Box donations.

Some of the children had also made their own get well cards to go in the boxes.

Compassionate Inverclyde, set up by nurse Alison Bunce, has captured the hearts of people in Inverclyde.

The Port man added: "What Alison has done is incredible. It sums up Inverclyde, somewhere that is neighbourly, compassionate and kind.

"Inverclyde Royal is the first hospital in the country to have this and now others are looking at emulating it.

"It is a real success story."