Will gives back to the life savers
by SANDI MILLER
1st April 2021
GOOD FRIDAY is a special day on the calendar for Warrandyte CFA volunteer Firefighter Will Hodgson.
It is the day he gets to give back to the place that saved his life.
Will told the Bulletin that if it were not Paediatric Surgeon Nate Myers at the Royal Children’s Hospital, he would not be here today.
Born with a diaphragmatic hernia, Will’s initial prognosis was not good.
“It means that there were a whole heap of organs sitting in my lungs,” he said.
He said even today it is a technical operation, but in 1976 “it was a huge deal”.
Born in Box Hill Hospital, the doctors there struggled to keep Will alive.
“Every time they took me off a ventilator, I just dropped my bundle,” he said.
He said Box Hill admitted it was beyond them so, while Will’s mother Debbie stayed on the Maternity ward at Box Hill, Will’s father Ian went with him to the Mercy to try and get some answers.
The Mercy too ran out of ideas, telling Ian that Will was not going to make it.
“They asked him if I wanted to be baptised,” said Will.
Eventually, Mr Nate Myers from the Royal Children’s was called in to take a look and told Ian that he had an idea of what was wrong with his baby son.
“I went to the Children’s and, thanks to Mr Myers, I came out the other side healthy”.
Will spent the next six months at the Children’s and then next five years with follow up appointments, travelling in from North Warrandyte.
Will said that he is grateful for the life that the Children’s Hospital has given him.
“The best thing for me is to acknowledge the sun going up in the morning and going down at night, because you have been lucky enough to be given a life — through one specialist who has been able to identify it — and so now I am here.”
Will has since dedicated his life to helping others.
Following the Pound Bend Fires in 1991, at the age of just 15, Will decided to volunteer with the North Warrandyte Fire Brigade and then when he started his own family he moved across the river to Warrandyte, and transferred to Warrandyte CFA.
From the start, he made it a priority to get out to shake tins for the Good Friday Appeal, and when North Warrandyte didn’t shake tins, he went out with South Warrandyte.
“I jumped across to South Warrandyte to shake tins, with Mark Kennedy and Greg Kennedy, and I do remember us being underage, but we were shaking the tin and that is all that mattered,” he said.
Will has collected money each year since, and even last year when restrictions made it impossible to shake tins, Warrandyte CFA set up a virtual tin shake, raising around $4,500 for the RCH.
“I think the online collection was a good thing, because when Warrandyte shakes a tin, it shakes a tin in Bulleen, so we are just picking up commuters, but being online gave an opportunity for the Warrandyte community, if they wanted, to donate through the Warrandyte Fire Brigade.”
They will have the best of both worlds this year, with the virtual tin shake online while brigades will be out collecting at intersections across Manningham: Warrandyte at Bulleen and Manningham Roads, North Warrandyte at Reynolds and Blackburn Roads, and South Warrandyte at Mitcham and Springvale Roads.
So, if you are out and about on Good Friday, chip in for a great cause, and if you are not, hop online to give to “the kids”.