Heart to Heart Respite House for needy

By Madeleine Caccianiga

The early 2000s witnessed two heart transplant recipients brainstorm the idea of a respite house in Barmah for recovering patients and those awaiting a transplant to escape to and relax.

Rotary Club of Nathalia’s president John Attwood said the late Barmah local Bill Vickers and his mate Kevin Williams first discussed the possibility of a heart and lung transplant house around a small table in the Alfred Hospital cafeteria.

‘‘At the time Mr Vickers owned a double block of land which he sub-divided and donated to kickstart the project,’’ Mr Attwood said.

In 2013, the Heart to Heart Respite founding committee stepped aside after approaching the club to take over.

Ten years on, Mr Attwood said visitors had come from all over Victoria.

‘‘We have one couple who come all the way from Moe and stay three to four times a year,’’ Mr Attwood said.

‘‘If people want to get away from the hustle and bustle they come up here — you’re five minutes from the pub, you’ve got the river down the road there — it’s a good spot,’’ he said.

Mr Attwood said the house was used more than 50 times last year.

‘‘The deed of purpose is to maintain a respite house for pre- and post-heart and lung transplant patients and carers, but eventually we want to open it up to people who have had liver and kidney transplants,’’ he said.

Mr Attwood said the club was in the process of updating the deed of purpose which had been knocked back three times.

‘‘We just want to open it up more so that more people can use it,’’ he said.

Bookings are available through the Alfred Hospital Heart and Lung Transplant Trust.

‘‘The person I liaise with has had a double lung transplant and just now had a new hip done,’’ Mr Attwood said.

For more information about the Heart to Heart Respite House, go to

To become a volunteer, phone John Attwood on 0407796254.