A FATHER-of-five with terminal cancer is fundraising to help East Lothian Foodbank this Christmas.

Johnnie Meechan, 43, of Tranent, was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour, also called NET cancer, in his liver and stomach five years ago.

It is incurable and he was told then that he had about five years to live.

Johnnie admits times have been tough but says he has been fortunate to be blessed with his “beautiful family” – and wants to make them proud and help others while he still can.

And in his latest fundraising venture, he is organising a foodbank drive.

A local councillor has described Johnnie’s kind-hearted actions as “unbelievable”.

Johnnie’s foodbank drive runs until next Tuesday (December 15), with people invited to either donate money or items to help local families in need.

The campaign has also attracted the interest of Hibernian Football Club.

Johnnie told the Courier: “This year has been dreadful for everybody and doing something like this seemed like the right thing to do.

“There is a good few people that help me out and we came up with some ideas about how we could do something different and help people in the community that have been really good to me and my family. I’ve needed to use foodbanks myself in the past and there’s a lot of people that have had to this year.

“It’s 2020, this shouldn’t be happening.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the drive goes; it’s been going really, really well so far.”

He added that people did not have to donate money if they could not afford to, with food donations also welcome.

Johnnie said that NET cancer was not rare but simply not as well known as other types of cancer.

He also fought osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in his late teenage years and early 20s, which resulted in him needing an amputation above his right knee and left him with a list of health complications.

But he decided to turn his situation into something positive and set up a video blog on social media.

Called Johnnie’s Journey, it charts his treatment and experiences to help raise awareness of cancers, and his in particular.

The remaining money left in the Johnnie’s Journey account has been donated to the foodbank drive.

The initial target of £300 was met within a couple of weeks and has now increased to £500.

All of the money raised will be used to buy items in bulk on December 15, all of which will be donated to East Lothian Foodbank, based on Tranent’s Civic Square.

All of the items donated will be gratefully accepted but urgent items that are needed are instant coffee, tinned fruit, tinned tomatoes, cup-a-soups, toiletries and disinfectant cleaning products.

To donate money, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jjfbank2020

For every pound donated, people will be given a raffle ticket for a variety of prizes.

Businesses that wish to offer a raffle prize, or people who want to donate items to the foodbank drive and want to arrange drop-off or pick-up, are asked to contact Johnnie through the Johnnie’s Journey Facebook page.

Colin McGinn, a local ward councillor, said: “I would say I find it wonderful that even in the toughest of times, good people in our communities rise to the challenge and support others in need. I would also add a huge thank you to Johnnie, his family, friends and to anyone who has supported him on his journey.

“The ability to think of others when facing a massive battle of your own shows remarkable courage and determination and is a lesson to many of us.”

His colleague, Councillor Gordon Mackett, said: “What Johnnie is achieving is unbelievable, he’s showing real courage and spirit.

“His family, myself and the rest of our area is incredibly proud of what he is doing.

“I understand it’s a financially hard time of year for a lot of people – if you are able to donate, please do. Well done again, Johnnie.”