Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Barmah heart recipient finally christens boat

In front of family and friends at his Barmah home, Bill Vickers christened his boat, Pelican.

TRENT HORNEMAN April 7, 2014 3:54am

Bill Vickers christens Pelican.

Eleven years ago, Bill Vickers set about restoring an old boat, while awaiting a heart transplant.

On Friday, he finally got to christen the bow in front of family and friends at his Barmah home.

Mr Vickers recalled standing at the counter of Echuca timber company Dempsey Galvin ordering wood for the boat in 2003 when he received a life-changing phone call.

‘‘Guy Galvin came out and said I had a phone call,’’ Mr Vickers said.

‘‘It was my wife asking me whether I had my phone with me.

‘‘I told her that I did, but it was turned off,’’ he said.

‘‘I was in ordering timber for the boat and there was a guy on life support in New Zealand, who would eventually be my heart donor.’’

Mr Vickers said Friday’s celebration was a major milestone.

‘‘It is 11 years and one day since I started work on the boat,’’ he said.

‘‘It is (also) 11 years since the transplant, so I am 11 years old today.’’

Mr Vickers said the restoration was put on hold while he recovered from the transplant.

The boat, dubbed Pelican, was also put on hold while Mr Vickers built Heart to Heart House, a retreat for people recovering from transplants, which is just a stone’s throw from his front door.

He has also prepared a caravan to take travelling with his wife, Glenys.

Since his life-changing operation, Mr Vickers has been a strong advocate for people signing up to become organ donors.

He said his new heart allowed him to build Heart to Heart house, refurbish his boat and caravan as well as see his grandchildren grow.

While inclement weather prevented the Pelican from entering the Murray River on Friday, Mr Vickers said he had taken it for a test drive.

‘‘It goes like a 747,’’ he said.

Having previously boated the length of the Murray River, from Albury to Goolwa, Mr Vickers said he would like to do another long journey.

‘‘I did the full length in 1999,’’ he said.

‘‘I think this time around I would like to do something similar, but not as far.’’

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