Brush with death gets Bill behind the cause

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Alexandra man Bill Townsend might look relaxed when he is sitting in his back yard or his lounge right now, but two months ago it was a different story.
At 2.30am on June 15, he became violently ill and his wife Lenore phoned the ambulance when he could not stop shaking.
What followed was top-rate care from St John and those at Dunstan Hospital, but it was the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust that provided the final flourish. A full intensive care retrieval unit (intensive care consultant, paramedic, specialist nurse and pilot) came for him when it was realised he needed immediate attention at a tertiary hospital, and he was choppered to Dunedin.
Mr Townsend’s diagnosis was sepsis — a serious, potentially fatal infection that progresses rapidly. He ended up spending a week in Dunedin Hospital and estimates it took him another month at home to properly recover.
He is now getting back to the gardening, bowls and family activities he enjoyed and is in no doubt the high-quality healthcare he received — and the 30-minute helicopter trip — saved his life.
‘‘There’s no question about it. If I hadn’t had that expert treatment, I wouldn’t be here today to tell you my story.’’
His friend Colin McKay — they have known each other since high school — says he is equally pleased about the outcome and ‘‘delighted’’ to revisit the happy ending of the story.
He is now one of the main organisers of a charity variety concert being held in Alexandra on Sunday to raise money for the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust, and is encouraging Central Otago residents to come along and support the cause.
The concert is being organised by the Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning — of which Mr McKay is a member — under the auspices of the Masonic Lodge Otago-Lakes District, which has chosen the helicopter trust as its charity for 2016. Every dollar raised at the Alexandra concert will then be matched by the national Masonic Lodge Charitable Trust.
The Alexandra concert will feature group and individual vocal, dance and drama from performers including the Dunstanza choir and other Dunstan High School performers, the Clyde Theatre Group, the Alexandra Musical Society and the RSA Gentlemen Singers.