A KILBIRNIE man has thanked a key member of the Garnock Valley Men’s Shed for helping to turn his life around.

Stuart Paton, 37, was on the “brink” of ending his own life before he was put in the direction of the group.

The 37-year-old has praised Fred Brown, who is a trustee of the Men’s Shed, for helping him to get his life back on track after he suffered from a mental illness.

Despite the shed being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fred has continued to help members by running online model classes and giving them model kits to do from their homes.

Stuart said: “Fred’s friendship has brought me back from the brink of suicide.

“His support and friendship at the shed and model club literally brought me back from the darkness clouding my thoughts.

“He has helped so many through this hard time by giving models away to vulnerable people in isolation and by running a live feed tutorial on building models.

“This has given vulnerable people and those self-isolating something to keep them busy which is so important to do given the current situation.

“Fred is the main character of the group.

“He always goes above and beyond what anyone would expect from a community member.

“Everybody there and around him knows what he is all about and the things he is doing but outside of that, people don’t really know they have a local hero living on their doorstep.

“He is always there for a chat and to help you through the hard times – he is truly a hero in my view.

“Without him the Garnock Valley Men’s Shed would not be the huge success it is today. His role has been vital in shaping it to the great facility it is today along with the other trustees.

“It saved my life as I was on the verge of suicide but one of the local councillors came to me and said you need to go here.

“I had a mental illness at the time and they were amazing with me. I’m not afraid of hiding it but I know there is sometimes a stigma attached but I am writing a book on my experience to help others.

“The other trustees also play a big part in keeping the shed going and maintaining the more technical side to running a charity.

“It’s truly unbelievable what they have achieved in the last two years and I and many others are so grateful.”