Final boating trip on the Broads for friends reunited after 44 years
- Credit: Steve Adams
After a long 44 years apart, David Thompson and John Hoare have been reunited for one final fishing trip.
It was in 1972, when Mr Hoare emigrated to Cairns, Australia, that the boating buddies drifted apart. They had been children in the first two families on a council house estate in Welwyn Garden City when it sprang up in 1956, and became inseparable.
A 'fanatical' fisherman at 13 years old, Mr Hoare introduced Mr Thompson, a seven-year-old Hackney native at the time, to the hobby.
Developing that love for the water led 68-year-old Mr Thompson, a retired train driver of 50 years, to settle down in Brundall, where the pair were reunited at the weekend.
'The first thing John ever said to me was, have you ever been fishing?' said Mr Thompson. 'I was from Hackney, of course I hadn't. I went out with him and his dad, and I am still a fisherman to this day.'
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Once Mr Hoare, now 73, could afford his own boat the pair would take it to St Neots every weekend, before he upgraded to a 31ft trimaran, harboured at Lowestoft, which soon became his home. An incident involving the harbour bridge left the boat without a mast and moored up at Oulton Broad.
'They were some of the happiest times of my life on Oulton Broad,' said Mr Thompson. 'I was devastated when he told me he was emigrating. It felt like my fishing and my boating had come to an end.
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'I went out and bought my own boat, and have owned one ever since. The Broads made such an impression on me I always said I would live in Norfolk when I retire.'
They were reunited by chance after Mr Hoare spotted an Evening News article celebrating Mr Thompson's 50 years in the rail industry.
'Once you get married things change,' said Mr Hoare. 'Once you used to run with the boys, but that stops. You just have different agendas, nobody does it purposefully, it just happens.
'I was always in contact with one of my friends from England, and I thought I would go over for a reunion. All of us are getting older, and if I didn't go over quickly we would all be gone.
'Then I wondered where David was. I assumed he was still in Welwyn Garden City, I looked him up in phone books but he wasn't there. There are a quarter of a million David Thompson's in the country, so it wasn't looking likely. 'I had almost given up and was about to shut the computer down when I decided to Google him. The top hit was an article about him in Brundall, and it didn't take long to find his address from there.
'It just feels like fate.'
Mr Thompson had been sitting at home when the phone rang out of the blue.
'We hadn't spoken for 44 years,' he said. 'I was just in disbelief. I regretted losing touch, it upset me immensely. If you value a friendship don't lose touch with them. The fact John found me is unbelievable.'
John and his wife, son and daughter spent two and a half days and £8,000 flying from their home in Tasmania to Heathrow.
'I wanted to bring my children with me to show them where I lived,' John added. 'I have told them about it but it's not the same as showing them first hand.
'I do not think I shall have time to come again. At our age, if you wake up in the morning you're grateful.'
After spending the day with both families at Waxham beach, David and John will be taking to the water one more time in David's boat.