A North Berwick author has released a new book that tells the autobiographical story of a group of social misfits who find redemption through an inspiring individual.

Patrick McLaughlin’s new book, Second Chances Don’t Grow On Trees, follows a group of "ne’er-do-wells from a tough urban slum who discover rehabilitation at the hands of a remarkable teacher."

Charged with getting the group of virtually unemployable individuals into work and settled lives, the main character, aformer teacher called Paddy, realises their primary deficit is their lack of education.

He sets out to remedy this deficiency by creating a college called ‘The People’s College’.

The college curriculum contains all the basic elements of a school-based system, including a strong commitment to creative writing.

However, the most provocative element in the curriculum is a course on cosmology, which is embraced enthusiastically by the students and proves pivotal to their acquiring a strong, almost cosmic, sense of their own significance and worth.

Station Road resident Patrick (pictured right), a former teacher who also helped produce educational literature and works for BBC radio and television, drew on his own experiences for the tale.

The 87-year-old said: “All significant change in life comes from within. This is true whether we are talking about the manner in which we deal with a whole range of personal problems or the crucial matter of education.

“Education, it is often forgotten, is not so much about teaching as it is about learning.

“This is why, over the course of a long and successful career culminating in my groundbreaking and challenging work with the long-term unemployed, I developed for myself a particular style of teaching that I would call ‘co-operative or participatory teaching’.

“The key to the success of this type of teaching is the willing and active involvement of the learner at all points and at all levels. And that can only be a good thing.”

The book, published by Troubador Publishing, is now available from a variety of outlets.