A former British Army infantryman is “collecting smiles” and seeking donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee to help him “beat the beast” of neurological dysfunction.

Archie Douglas, of North Berwick, was diagnosed with a brain tumour just nine months after he left his 20-year career with the 1st Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers in December 2012.

Extensive surgery for the grade 3 anaplastic oligodendroglioma was so intense that he is now living with neurological dysfunction and SMART syndrome, a condition brought on by his radiotherapy treatment.

East Lothian Courier: Archie Douglas

Archie Douglas

According to Archie, his specialist said he was now “unemployable and should aspire to nothing more than working in a charity shop for an hour a week”.

Archie, aged 49, said: “I’ve been left brain damaged and unemployable by a brain tumour triggered by a blunt-force trauma sustained during my army service.

“It’s a nasty, rare type that has a nasty habit of sneaking back in through the back gate, as it were.”

But the former soldier, who moved to the Barley Brae estate from Edinburgh nine months ago, is determined to “make myself useful”.

“I really miss being employable,” he explained.

“I’ve had to surrender my driving licence, so I’m striving to become useful again.”

His motivation has taken the form of the ‘Beat the Beast’ campaign, which sees him engaging in a wide range of activities.

He said: “I’m focused on trying to stop this thing from coming back by using a balanced daily lifestyle; I’m using drama and dance and music; learning to play the pipe organ; golf, if I can get a membership to the golf club here; litter picking, writing a book, learning to juggle; anything I can to try to retrain the strength of my brain.”

The father-of-two regularly walks on local beaches with his spaniel Cocoa – always wearing his distinctive hi-vis vest which explains his campaign – and captures, on camera, the smiles of people he meets, which he then posts online.

East Lothian Courier: Archie Douglas and Cocoa on Seacliff Beach. Photo: Hamish Stewart

Archie Douglas and Cocoa on Seacliff Beach. Photo: Hamish Stewart

He explained: “Sometimes I can get up in the morning and take the dog for a walk and feel 100 per cent; sometimes I wake up in the morning and struggle to even see anybody else. But I discovered that making other people smile made me smile more and feel so very much better than just a few seconds earlier.

“I’ve got a ‘Smileometer’ now – I want to catch smiles and make people smile.”

Archie is also fundraising for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), with a hugely ambitious target.

He told the Courier: “With wars and climate change, and now with Covid, poverty is getting deeper across the world, and the Disasters Emergency Committee are saving lives. My challenge is simple: there are 64 million active current accounts in the UK. If I can convince one per cent of those account holders to challenge me with £1 a month to keep fighting, to stop this b***** from coming back, and get fit enough to get useful again, then I could raise £640,000 a month to save and rebuild lives through the Disasters Emergency Committee.”

A focused Archie has already helped raise more than £16,000 for the humanitarian aid charity, with his donors sending roughly £230 a month to the DEC.

Archie added: “By having that purpose, when I feel like s*** and I can’t really face the world; I get up and I get my dog, and I go out and I try to find a smile.”

To sponsor Archie, go to beatthebeastchallenge.co.uk/index.php/sponsor-archie