Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Man's 5 debt repaid 39 years on

Jim Webb
Mr Webb said he would give the 200 to charity

A Sheffield man who lent a penniless Australian tourist 5 to pay for a ferry trip in 1969 has been repaid his debt nearly 40 years later.

While Jim Webb was out, a card and 200 was hand delivered to his home by Gary Fenton, to repay the money he borrowed when they met in Ostend, Belgium.

A note inside read: "To Jim Webb, a good man. From Gary Fenton, a tardy payer of debts."

Mr Webb, 72, has appealed for Mr Fenton to get back in touch.

Mr Webb and a friend were travelling around Europe in April 1969 when they met the Australian traveller, then in his early 20s, at a ferry port in Ostend.

He said: "A young man came up to us and said he hadn't got enough money to get back to England and would we lend him 5 and he'd repay us as soon as he could afford it."

The three men travelled back to England and when they parted Mr Fenton took Mr Webb's address, but he never heard from him.

In this day and age promises are made and promises are broken and you lose your faith in human nature
Jim Webb

Then on Sunday, he returned to his home in Bradway to find the surprise card.

Mr Webb said: "I was quite emotional when I read it. In this day and age promises are made and promises are broken and you lose your faith in human nature.

"This was a lovely gesture. Forty years is a long time - it must have been preying on his mind that he hadn't repaid his debt.

"He said he was giving me 200 as that was 5 for every year that had gone by."

Mr Webb said the card explained how Mr Fenton, who now lived in Sydney, had come across his address while looking through some old papers.

His note said he had decided to pay him a visit and repay his debt while on a trip to London.

Mr Webb, who is giving the 200 to charity, said: "He didn't leave an address or telephone number, just an email address which I have tried but so far I haven't heard back.

"I am very sorry I was not in on Sunday... he would have been very welcome here. Hopefully we will be able to make contact, it would be wonderful to meet up again."

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