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Bucket list: Tommy, 81, aims to have some fun after tough life

The pensioner's wish list includes a trip to butterfly world and getting a pie supper.

Tommy's wish: The pensioner also wants to go aboard the Waverley Steamer.
Tommy's wish: The pensioner also wants to go aboard the Waverley Steamer. STV

An "exceptional" pensioner from Irvine is making his way through a special bucket list of experiences he has always wanted to try.

Tommy Hagan, 81, who spent most of his young life in an orphanage, is now set on achieving a few big goals.

One being a decent pie supper and another, most importantly, to help young people in care.

Tommy, who was put into an orphanage at the age of three shortly before the Second World War, spent 13 years in the system and missed out on much of his childhood.

He did not even learn he had a middle name until he left the orphanage.

Now, with the support of Mind Mosaic, a local counselling and therapy charity, his new friends are keen to make sure he finally has some enjoyment.

"Tommy is just an exceptional man, he's inspirational," says support worker, Elaine Wroe.

"I met him five years ago and have watched him fight his battle to be heard and it's his time now to have a bit of fun."

Tommy is being supported by Mind Mosaic.
Tommy is being supported by Mind Mosaic. STV

Elaine and her team have been trying to help Tommy achieve his wish list, which includes learning to drum like a rock star and being able to take a trip "doon the water" on the famous Waverley paddle steamer.

His first wish, to learn how to drum, was recently granted help from tutor Lesley McLaren, of the drumming school Hit Squad.

She gave Tommy the chance to rock out and have a bash at trying to play his favourite track.

"I've not got it quite right yet but I'm trying," says Tommy. "I love the song You are my Sunshine."

Tommy Hagan took on his first drumming lesson.
Tommy Hagan took on his first drumming lesson. Hit Squad

Tommy though, insists that his most important goal is to help others, especially young people in care.

He was 16 when he left the orphanage to become a farm hand but his experience in care left him traumatised.

Recently, he has gathered the courage with the help of Mind Mosaic, to share his experience as part of the current Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

"I've lived a long while," he says. "I'd love to help other people like people have helped me.

"It's very hard for young people today, there are not many jobs for them and they've been pushed back into a corner.

"You just have to try - join a group and do what you can. Travel as much as you can and train where you can."

Tommy's belief in trying new things is at the heart of his newly formed bucket list, which is short but includes experiences that will mean the most to him.

Tommy's bucket list

1. See the butterflies at Edinburgh's Butterfly World

2. Do something to help others

3. See a black swan

4. Go on a plane

5. Drum like a rock star (Check!)

6. Take a trip on the Waverley paddle steamer

7. Enjoy a fantastic pie and chips

"I'd love to see the wee butterflies," says Tommy. "And I'd fly to Rome if I could. I've only been on a plane once in my life, over to Dublin, and I remember peeping out the wee window to see the big white clouds."

Tommy now lives in sheltered housing and says he is very happy there.

"It has a front door and a back door so I can be out in the sunshine," he says.

"I can sit out there and play my ukulele."

His other goals include seeing a black swan ("You can see them on the internet," says Tommy) - most commonly found in Australia - and enjoying the perfect pie supper.

"Something to make my eyes sparkle you know?" Tommy laughs. "I love a fish supper, too."

Animal fan Tommy would love to see a black swan.
Animal fan Tommy would love to see a black swan. Dick Daniels

With more than eight decades of life experience he has one good piece of advice to give everyone.

"You need to trim your parsley when you make soup," he says. "Cut a good four inches and plant the stems - you can get a good four grows out if it."

Elaine and the team who have been with Tommy for several years now say he has taught them more than just culinary skills.

"He's taught me to have resilience and to keep going," says Elaine.

"He can tell you the name of every plant and bird. He still has that drive to learn and grow and keep going.

"He's had a hard life and he deserves our help to have a good life now."

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