After 33 years as a prison officer in Barlinnie, Rab Kerr walked out to his retirement and a surprise welcoming party of ex-prisoners.

A group of men who has spent time in the jail came back to thank the officer for his help in them turning their lives around.

Mr Kerr had spent the second half of his career as a prison officer working in addictions and the last five years working with Sisco Recovery, helping prisoners preparing for a drug free, crime free life on the outside.

When he walked out from his final shift in the jail, four men were there to say ‘thank you’.

They set off small fireworks and brought gifts for a man who spent years doing more than just locking them up.

First up was David. He said: “Life would have been different if you didn’t take me into the recovery café.”

Gary, who now works in recovery services, said: “All Those years of not giving up has paid off. Thanks for investing in me.

“There is a snowball effect, the recovery community is there and its growing.”

Others were there, Gordon, who also spent time in Barlinnie came to show his appreciation and Robert an ex offender who has been in other prisons who now volunteers with prisoners also made the trip to the jail.

Natalie MacLean, chief executive of Sisco Recovery, which works with prisoners in the jail praised his work.

She said: “He was the officer that went the extra mile to offer support around addiction and mental health or even just sit and have a chat with prisoners when they were feeling low.

“Rab attended yearly recovery walks unpaid, dedicating his time to support the recovery agenda both inside and outside the established work.

“For them to turn up like this speak volumes about the impact he made on these men’s life during their darkest days.”

Mr Kerr said he was “emotional” at the gesture.

He said: “This is very nice for me. We do the work because we believe in it. This shows they appreciated the work and that I tried to help them. For them to come here today for me is emotional.”

Mr Kerr praised the peer led approach of Sisco and the men helping each other.

He said: “These guys have the lived experiences and know what people are going through. Their commitment is phenomenal.”

The focus of the work, he said, was to look at changing behaviour and not focusing purely on addictions.

He added:”It’s about looking at the causes.”

Now he plans to relax a little, spend more time with his family.

But he is not finished with helping people.

He said he planned to be doing the same type of work with people in their communities.

He said: “I’m not stopping it now.”