A FATHER-of-two is back in the office after suffering a devastating stroke – and it’s all thanks to a scheme which helps people with disabilities return to work.

Tom Meechan is undertaking a placement at a factory run by SEQOL, a social enterprise scheme based in the town, which involves health and safety duties.

His life changed forever in November 2010 when a stroke left him unable to perform basic duties at his former management position for a road-cleaning company.

The 58-year-old former Scots Guard, of Eldene , is applying to a Government scheme which will allow him to be paid for his placement ahead of a possible permanent job.

He had held down his previous role for 10 years but is now being supported back into work at the factory, which produces sheds, fencing and other garden products.

Tom said: “The stroke left me totally back to front and originally I was thinking all I was going to be able to do was stack shelves and that sort of thing.

“My job before was 60 to 70 per cent on the phone whereas now I can’t pick up the handset and if someone told me their number I wouldn’t be able to remember it.

“Thanks to SEQOL I am doing the same work I used to do.”

SEQOL, a supported business providing employment opportunities for people with a variety of disabilities, runs the Enterprise Works factory, in Gipsy Lane.

Tom has been taking part in the six-month placement for 11 months.

Operations manager Jeanette Grant said: “When people are either born with disabilities or develop them later in life it is difficult for them to get their confidence or self-esteem back in an environment where they are supported.

“In Tom’s case at his age and with the recession it would be difficult enough to find a job.

“We work with the council and with employers to get people back into the world of work.

“It benefits the person because they feel valued and it also supports their family and stops them having to access mental health services because it improves their sense of self-worth.”