Tony Beechers has been put through the wringer in recent years.

After suffering a series of serious health problems that forced him to quit his job, his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

Now Tony is back in the workforce, as a driver.

But the work means a lot more to him than just another paid job.

It’s no exaggeration to say that working for County Print Finishers (CPF) has transformed his life.

Mr Beechers had worked in highways maintenance since the 1980s but was suffering muscle pain on and off and seeing a physiotherapist.

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However, in 2003, doctors discovered he had inherited a heart condition – called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM.

Dangerous or even life-threatening if left untreated, the risk of having a heart attack because of doing manual labour forced him to give up his job.

He said: “I took up other jobs in the meantime. I’m quite a strong person because you want to support your family.

“When my wife was later diagnosed with cancer, it was quite a stressful time.”

But just 12 months after Mr Beecher’s wife was given the all-clear in 2011, Mr Beecher himself fell ill.

He was diagnosed with diabetes, as well as testicular cancer and a tumour behind his eye.

He then faced a decade of hospital treatment but is now currently in remission from the tumour.

Mr Beechers reacted by withdrawing into himself and despite being a passionate Oxford United fan, even turned down tickets to the Kassam Stadium.

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But being employed at CPF since last year has helped him recover his confidence and given him a renewed sense of purpose.

He said: “After lots of years stuck at home, keeping things to myself and not telling my kids about my condition, I’ve realised now that that’s not a good thing.

“I don’t tend to ask for help. It comes from my dad who was a sergeant-major in the Army Medical Corps."

He added: "At work it’s so relaxing to be alongside people who care about me.

“It’s given me a chance to smile more. I used to get moody a lot, but I’m not as bad as I was.

"I feel calmer in my body, I now know I will be fine and everybody works as a team.”

County Print Finishers has years of experience of shaping lives for the better.

It is part of Oxford Employment which is operated by Oxfordshire County Council.

This year, it is celebrating its 75th birthday for supplying good quality services to the local print and data destruction industries.

Mr Beechers explained: “I’ve never worked in such an environment before.

"Everyone here – my work colleagues and my managers – everyone helps you.

"I was made to feel welcome in the first week and that’s not stopped.”

Driving in tandem or as part of a two-vehicle convoy, during the pandemic great care has been taken to ensure Tony’s safety - with good reason.

Oxfordshire Employment offers support to anyone who faces barriers to gaining employment.

It helps to support people with long term health issues or a disability to keep paid employment.

As well as helping people directly into work, it can offer paid work placements to candidates to help them develop skills and experience.

Will Gardner, Employment Print Finishers team manager, said: “Tony is a classic example of how we can help people find their way into the world of work and have a positive impact on their self-esteem and outlook.

“Tony brings a lifetime of skill and determination to his role and brings this to bear in mentoring his colleagues and turning his hand to a multitude of tasks across our operations.

“At Oxfordshire Employment, we are an established leader in helping people find and remain in employment.

"We also provide supported internship opportunities, which are highly successful in supporting young adults to enter work."

He added: “We have teams of dedicated employment advisers located across the county, who can help people to develop your work skills, look for employment, get over problems along the way and get a job and keep it.

“We are proud that we regularly exceed our targets in terms of helping people achieve and sustain employment.”

If you are interested in learning more, you should speak to Oxfordshire Employment, which provides support through central government and locally funded schemes, about being referred.

Further information can be found on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.