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Jock and the giant peer group

When Jock Shiells, a retired joiner from Eyemouth, was diagnosed with a chronic lung condition in 2004 he was shocked to discover the lack of support when he got home from hospital.

“I came out of hospital and had four or five weeks of therapy and then was left on my own to try to recover and rebuild my life.

“I was shocked to find such a lack of therapy afterwards and this made me want to do something for myself and others like me who found themselves in the same position.”

Jock took matters into his own hands

Determined to improve his health, Jock was spurred into action and set up a rehabilitation group to offer support, exercise and interaction for people like him with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

He was given a start-up grant from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and ever since the group has gone from strength to strength. 

“There is nothing like this group in the Borders” says Jock. “I just wanted to help folk with problems like mine, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Jock and the peer support group went from strength to strength

What started out as around ten people meeting each week has now rocketed to 100 fully-fledged group members. Based at the local leisure centre, the group now offers three active fitness classes a week and also includes sessions in the swimming pool too.

“I think the key thing is the informality,” said Jock. “There are no targets – you are just in for an hour of exercise and then enjoy coffee and biscuits.

peer support group eyemouth jock

The peer support group enjoys regular exercise sessions in their local leisure centre’s swimming pool.

“It’s a social thing as much as anything else. People come for the banter, but we do the exercises too. I can’t take part in the exercises as I’ve only got 30% lung capacity, but I do still go in and have a swim.”

Together we can help more people

“I can’t thank Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland enough. They have been hugely helpful and are very important to me.” Jock continued.

“I would say to anyone else who has COPD that you shouldn’t be frightened or embarrassed to ask for help or information as it can improve your situation.

“There is help and support out there, you just need to know where to find it, or if there isn’t then set up a group yourself. If I can do it, you can.”

To find out more about our peer support groups and other help available for you in your area, please call our Advice Line nurses on 0808 801 0899 or visit

People are leaving hospital feeling scared and alone. You can change that.

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