EVEN celebrating his 60th was an opportunity for Ron Carter to spread the word about the gift of life.

Ron, recovering from a life-saving heart transplant three months ago, was determined to keep organ donation at the forefront of his birthday celebrations.

"Every day's a sunny day," said Ron, of Helmsdale, Greenmeadow, who turns 60 on Sunday.

He first featured in the Advertiser as the spokesman for the Gift of Life campaign after waiting nine months for a transplant. And he even had organ donation sign-up and information forms at his party for 150 family and friends held at the Moonrakers pub in Cricklade Road on Saturday evening. On the night there was also a raffle to raise money for Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, where Ron had his transplant.

He said: "We want to give something back to these people because I have got what I want."

Wife Jenny, 58, who has spent the last four years worrying about her husband's condition, said: "We feel we have a future now whereas before I was thinking we had two years.

"We can see the grandchildren grow up. He'll probably outlive me now."

Now he is back being the granddad he wanted to be, Ron's thoughts have inevitably moved to the anonymous donor and their family.

He is at the stage that he can write a letter to the family if he wishes.

Ron said: "It took me about 12 attempts to write it. I don't know the words that could express how I feel."

He will remain on medication to suppress rejection of his new heart for the rest of his life, however he has gone from 36 tablets a day to 12.

He has made rapid progress but is still waiting for the bad days he was warned about by the consultants.

He said: "It is just nice to be able to say well I wouldn¹t have been doing this had I not had the transplant and I might not have ever been doing it.

"You see people miserable over the slightest things and you think why are you like that, you don't know half of what life can be like."

The milestone was also a chance for Ron to reflect on how much his life has changed and look to the future.

The family have been to Wales and are planning a trip to Butlins with the grandchildren.

Ron has taken up bowls again, which he was forced to stop because he became out of breath just walking up and down the green.

Another sport he would like to get back to is tennis, though he is working up to that with lighter hobbies like gardening.

However, Jenny said there was still room for Ron to contribute a bit more around the house, after doctors told him he is still not allowed to do any ironing or vacuuming. "I asked the consultant about that and said 'has he paid you to say that?'" joked Jenny.

The couple also thanked the many people for their support and those that made the party possible.

This included the Moonrakers pub, the DJ Tony Pidgeon who gave his services for free, the Four Pillars, De Vere and Blunsdon House hotels, JJs hairdressers, Triumph, Boots, WHSmith and the Wiltshire FA who all donated gifts or vouchers for the raffle.

Golfer David Howell even donated a signed cap and gloves.