Peter prepares to help Syrian cause while fighting his own ME battle

Peter Dinen from Hawick medical supplies to Syria.
Peter Dinen from Hawick medical supplies to Syria.

as the rebel fight against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government approaches its second anniversary, the bravery of the country’s residents is being mirrored over 3,000 miles away in the Borders.

Hawick pensioner Peter Dinan barely leaves his home due to the constant pain of myalgic encephalopathy - better known as ME - which has affected most of his life.

But the 66-year-old is determined to help the people of Syria by sending boxes of basic medicines which are so badly needed.

The World Health Organisation estimates that Syrian pharmaceutical factories have had to vastly reduce their production because of insufficient supplies during the conflict. As a result, a black market has emerged, with some pharmacies 40 per cent down on their usual stocks.

However, Peter, with help from Crosby chemists in Hawick, has joined up with charity Hand in Hand for Syria to provide vital medical assistance.

Peter told TheSouthern: “Watching the TV reports, you have a pretty unusual situation whereby a government is bombing its own people.

“What really struck me from the reports was that families were very often being bombed out of their homes, in particular women with their young children, who had often seen the man of the family shot by the 
army. We hear many are forced to camp in sheds, flimsy tents or outbuildings, often without heating or winter clothing.

“I have had ME for a lot of my life and it is a very painful illness, not just for one week or a month, but for year after year.

“I feel I can empathise with the severity of the situation for these people and the unbelievable pain they are suffering.

“I usually donate to a couple of charities a year but often you do not know how much of your money is reaching the people it is meant to be helping.

“But with this group you know the medicine will go to the people in Syria who need it.”

Peter was diagnosed with ME – which leaves sufferers fatigued with painful muscles and joints - at the age of 21.

He was a self-employed joiner and builder on listed buildings, but the condition took over completely at the age of 46, forcing him to quit work altogether in 1993.

“I only get out of the house if my carer is with me and even then it is only a little drive to Selkirk or Galashiels,” Peter said.

“But helping the people of Syria is giving me something really worthwhile to do.

“While other charities have pulled out of Syria because of safety fears, Hand in Hand for Syria is run by London-based Syrians, so they can get back into the country every couple of weeks with convoys of materials.

“I have already collected around 40 or 50 items but we are now hoping to get much more.”

Anyone wishing to contribute – with supplies needed including paracetamol, ibuprofen, cotton wool and baby supplies – can do so by dropping them into Crosby chemists, whom Peter thanked for their assistance.