Former Welton teacher dies afte collapsing on his catamaran

Sandra Hather of Huttoft whose husband died of a heart attack on board their catamaran moored off Gibraltar Point. Pictured looking at photographs of her husband.
Sandra Hather of Huttoft whose husband died of a heart attack on board their catamaran moored off Gibraltar Point. Pictured looking at photographs of her husband.

A huge celebration has taken place to remember the life of a much-loved man who died suddenly when he collapsed on his catamaran just off.

Bill Hather, 74, suffered a heart attack while moored off Gibraltar Point with his wife Sandra.

He had always said that he did not want a funeral but instead would like his life to be celebrated. His friends and family did just that, with between 80-90 people gathering at the Woolpack Hotel in Wainfleet last week to pay tribute to him.

Bill and Sandra, who teachers in Welton before retiring, had just come to the end of a five week cruise around the Norfolk and Humber coast on their catamaran ‘Kedim’ when Bill fell ill on August 16 this year.

Sandra, 73, said: “We were anchored off Skegness, waiting for the tide to be high enough to get back down the creek. The anchor got dug in really hard and he tried to pull it out.

“I was steering the boat at the time. He came back and said he felt dizzy then collapsed on the bottom of the boat. I felt for a pulse, then the boat started drifting so I got on the radio and called the coastguard. I was trying to steer it back into Gibraltar Point where it was sheltered while I waited for help.

“It was such a shock. He was very fit and never went to the doctor.

“We would cycle about 100 miles a week.”

The Skegness Lifeboat crew and a helicopter, plus the coastguard search and rescue team were scrambled out to the 30 foot catamaran. Sandra was rescued from the boat and Bill was airlifted to Hull Royal Infirmary but was pronounced dead, despite efforts to revive him.

Sandra, who lives in Huttoft, said: “They tried to do their best but I think he died on the boat.

“He always said that when it was time, he wanted to die on his boat. We sailed for 45 years, all over the place, to Norway and the Baltic and the Biscay coast.

“We would have been together over 55 years. We met when he moved in next door to me. I was 14 at the time. I knew he was a cyclist so to get his attention I stuck a pin in my bike tyre.

“He always fancied sailing since he was at school. He went on a college trip to Scotland and tried dinghy sailing and it went from there.

“I remember going sailing up in Scotland around the Hebrides with a tent.

“We were very active. We did a lot of skiing, as well as sailing, camping, mountain walking and orienteering.”

Bill is also survived by daughter Nicola, 55.

Members from Skegness Yacht Club and the Humber Yawl Club, of which Bill belonged, joined together at the celebration of his life and helped raise £300 for the Skegness Lifeboat.

Sandra said: “I was totally overwhelmed by the turn out for the celebration. People from the clubs were there, as well as teaching friends and other people who knew him. He was loved by everyone.”