Things work in strange ways. Yesterday Bill Welbourne emailed he’d read in ASOPA PEOPLE that Siebrand Petrusma had donated a collection of old Pacific Islands Monthly magazines to the cause. Did they go back to 1966, Bill asked.
PIM - now extinct – was a publication that one observer said provided “advertisements, photographs and stories that fuelled the idyllic image of these magic [Pacific] lands”. It turned out that a 1966 issue had published a photo of Bill and his son Tony.
“In this lost article,” Bill wrote, “I remember seeing a photo of me as the South Pacific record holder and hot favourite for the 800 metres. The photo shows my two-year old son Tony handing me my athletic spikes.”
I leafed through the copies from 1966 that Siebrand had sent - some issues missing, some without covers - gently turning torn pages as the detritus of PNG fell on my desk – dust, grass fragments, small spiders. And all the while that musty-sweet scent of the tropics emitting from the newsprint. Until there, on page 24 of the December issue, was Bill’s missing photo.
Jackson Wells Morris office supervisor James Cropper scanned the page and we sent the result to Bill, who was grateful and generous in his praise: “Thanks ever so much, Keith. The speed of your public relations set up amazes me. By the time I scratched my nose and put out the garbage, you had retrieved my lost photo which I have been wanting all those years.”
And how did Bill go at that second South Pacific Games in Noumea. Unfortunately three years of teaching in the tropics had taken their toll. In the 800 metres he ran 8 seconds off his best and was pipped on the line just 0.3 seconds adrift of Ellia Humuni of New Caledonia. Bill also won silver in the 400 metres hurdles.