|Captain Pat Vickers (MH 51-56) served in the Navy before embarking on a teaching career which took him to schools in Germany, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and finally Thailand, where he is now retired. |
He also spent five years working to computerise health records in the Health Service in Papua New Guinea, where he saw first-hand the serious health challenges facing this South Pacific nation. Nearly seven per cent of children do not live past their fifth birthday and distribution of medical supplies to remote populations is especially difficult. In Milne Bay Province he met Chris Abel, grandson of Charles Abel, first London Missionary Society missionary to Papua, and together they came up with the vision of a mission schooner similar to his grandfather’s.
Captain Vickers wrote to the Tonbridge Society recently, inviting OTs to help him complete what he describes as his “swansong” venture after a “lifetime of blessings” – the building of a mission ship to provide vital medical supplies and equipment to people in need around the world.
“Schooner 'Ixdos' has been lovingly constructed with the help of so many people: school children, Thai welders, Burmese boat-builders, American missionaries. So many kind folks have donated time, equipment and funds to help me: my three sons, parents, teachers, churches, my family of Manor House OTs. Our 150 hp Perkins marine diesel engine came from the King's barge. Our 8 kw Kohler diesel generator was given to us by Phuket engineer Craig. Solar panel, windmill, compass, binnacle, wheel, binoculars, old sails, epoxy paint and glue, mast winches: all given.
“Our 60ft staysail schooner is designed with a clinic on board to carry a team of paramedics wherever we are needed. Mission Hospital in Phuket has given us a dental chair which we have already installed in the clinic. We have insulated spaces ready to carry vaccine because UNICEF tell us of the tragic deaths of so many unvaccinated children in remote places that lack basic healthcare facilities.
“An aid agency, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), has invited us to support their work in the Mediterranean where they are manfully struggling to care for countless refugees in Lesvos. We are therefore making a last rallying call to get the ship completed – we need a final £45,000 to complete the rig, designed by local sailmaker Rolly Tasker with two 50ft masts and 5 sails. We don’t want this final element of the project to stop us in our tracks...
“We could be in the Mediterranean quite quickly...we need three months to build the masts and one month to get to there.
“Lads I need a hand. Please help me push our boat out! My generation are moving on and I want our good ship to be in good hands. Please help me, if you can. Sola fide.”
Capt Pat Vickers MH 51-56
Registered British Small Ship: SSR117362