HE used to be regarded as one of the game’s gutsiest performers whenever he took the stage in international cricket.

But ever since he moved to Ballater in Deeside in the late 1990s, John Edrich has been fighting a bigger battle.

The former batsman, who played 77 tests for his country between 1963 and 1976, was diagnosed with leukaemia and given a maximum of seven years to live.

Yet, more than a decade later, the 79-year-old plays golf regularly and helps out his fellow citizens.

Mr Edrich attributes much of his recovery to the pioneering mistletoe therapy which he has received from Dr Stefan Geider at the Camphill Wellbeing Trust.

The charity, which is based at Bieldside in Aberdeen, has developed a reputation for the mistletoe therapy, which has assisted several people with cancer in the area.

Now Mr Edrich, one of life’s redoubtable characters in dealing with obstacles, has no doubt it is one of the reasons he has defied earlier gloomy medical prognoses and is undertaking a major fundraising drive so that others can benefit.

He said: “After five years of chemotherapy, which was extremely debilitating, I was advised to consult Dr Geider and it was one of the best things I have ever done.

“They specialise in mistletoe therapy as part of an integrative approach for patients with cancer. I started this in 2005 and have continued with it ever since.

“I remain in good health and I fully enjoy my life and there is no doubt that the mistletoe has helped me continue my journey. It’s unfortunate this isn’t available on the NHS, because the staff at Camphill do a great job and Dr Geider is a wonderful man, who has offered me a way of rebuilding my immune system after a period when I was very low.”

Mr Edrich organised a golf day at Ballater, which raised more than £11,000 for Camphill, and he is determined to help as many others as he can make the most of their lives.

He said: “We were lucky when the floods hit the town last year, but it was sad to see the devastation caused to so many homes and shops. But it was amazing the way the community pulled together. This is my home now. And I’ve been heartened by how many folk are working to help others.”

Dr Geider said: “Most of my patients report a significant increase in their quality of life while using mistletoe therapy and, for some like John, it appears to have had a positive impact on life expectancy. However, we do recognise that more solid research is required.”

He was given just seven years to live when he was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in 2000.

His health deteriorated so badly by 2005 that he told his wife Judith he was on the brink of death.

Shortly afterwards he heard about Dr Geider and has used injections of mistletoe extract as a cancer treatment ever since.

His fearlessness on the pitch saw him twice returning to the wicket to bat during the 1974-5 Ashes tour despite having his hand and later ribs broken by balls from Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee.

He comes from a famous Norfolk sporting family and four of his cousins played first-class cricket.

A scorer of 12 test centuries for England, his best effort was 310 not out against New Zealand in 1965.