A volunteer from Buckhaven has urged others to do the same after his hard work led him to completely overhaul his own life.
Colin Pentland (52) started volunteering for local environmental charity CLEAR just one year ago, but the last 12 months have seen his life completely change.
Having been unable to work because of illness, Colin had been receiving disability benefits for ten years before getting a job at Amazon in 2012.
Unfortunately, he was paid off just four days before Christmas.
But in May, after being encouraged by his daughter, Colin started giving his time to CLEAR, which is based on College Street in Buckhaven.
“My kids had been going to the Globe, a learning garden close to Buckhaven Primary School) and Graham from CLEAR was doing a wildlife project.
‘‘We struck up a conversation. He had been telling the kids about a bird and said it was a swift, but I pointed out it was a swallow.
“My eldest daughter Lara said ‘Maybe you should volunteer Dad because you know a lot about animals’ so I went along to see about getting involved.”
In the last 12 months, Colin’s efforts with CLEAR, as well as volunteering hours with the Buckhaven Beehive, Buckhaven Nursery and school, have had a real impact on his and his family’s lives.
When he started with the charity, Colin weighed 23 stones.
But in just 12 short months, he has lost an incredible nine stones, and gained invaluable knowledge about gardening and living more healthly and more sustainably.
“I was overweight, unfit, and didn’t know much about gardening,” said Colin.
“But since I’ve been there, I’m now doing a wee bit of everything, so it has all turned out great.”
Colin, who is dyslexic, said that throughout his life, he has simply gone from one job to the next, never sticking at anything.
“Since I’ve been at CLEAR, I have been doing work, I didn’t realise that I would be so good at it - I’m learning stuff all the time,” he said.
Before joining, Colin had never had a garden, but now he has planted an apple orchard in his front garden, along with pear trees, cherry trees, strawberries and raspberries.
And his next project is building a green house out of plastic bottles, with its very own water heating system.
Colin said volunteering has helped with his own self esteem, as well as giving him and his family - who all give up their time as well - an opportunity to get involved in the community.
“CLEAR is always looking for more volunteers and they’d love to have more people involved.”
CLEAR is holding two events to appreciate and improve the area’s “glorious” coastal surroundings. This Saturday, a guided nature walk will explain what’s living and growing along the coast, culminating in a visit to Wemyss Caves.
Participants will meet at 28 Viewforth at 2.00 p.m. Places are limited, so register at firstname.lastname@example.org or 36 College Street.
On June 8, to mark World Oceans Day, CLEAR is organising a community clean-up of Buckhaven Harbour, then along the coast, linking to East Wemyss. Anyone interested is welcome at Buckhaven Harbour at 2.00 p.m. Litterpickers will be provided.