52 YEARS LATER, A PERSONAL AND FAMILY SAGA COMES TO A CLIMAX ON MACLEAY ISLAND!
It was 52 years ago when a young cadet journalist attended a shorthand and typing course at the Goulburn (NSW) Technical College.
He was almost the only male in the class with nearly 40 young ladies who thought they might be able to have a career as shorthand/typists.
One of those young women was a pretty 16-year-old Narelle Hackney.
Presentation Balls were ‘big’ in Goulburn in 1966 and Narelle was keen to be ‘presented’ at the annual Masonic ball of which her father was a keen member.
Her dad, Clive Hackney was also the ‘weather man’ in Goulburn and managed the Goulburn water supply.
Narelle and her sister Janice were closely cared for by dad Clive and her mother Mavis.
Anyway, Narelle decided to be bold and ask the young man in that class (who just happens to be the Managing Editor of The Friendly Bay Islander) would he be her partner for the Presentation Ball.
They had a great night and ended up becoming fast friends; the young man went on a number of trips with her family to the building site for the Hackney family’s eventual home in Mollymook on the South Coast of NSW.
Time moved on the young man eventually left Goulburn and young Narelle did so too; when the Hackney family finished building their Mollymook home.
There, she met and married John Bean and eventually had two sons and a daughter.
Narelle’s happy life was cut short when, in1984, her husband died of a sudden heart attack.
She took over the family glazing business and continued to bring up her children on her own. She never remarried.
The young man didn’t hear any more about Narelle over the years, but did wonder what had become of her; that was until just a few months ago.
“I did my cadetship in journalism on the famous Goulburn Penny Post, as it was called then. I have often kept an eye on their web site, and I stayed in touch with several people from Goulburn over the years, including long-time editor Ray Leeson,” Gerard explained.
Recently, in the modernised Goulburn Post, they ran a 50th anniversary feature of the famous Goulburn Lilac Time Festival. In that feature was a picture of Narelle Hackney all those years ago.
A quick search, and it didn’t take long to find Narelle Hackney Bean today.
She answered via Messenger, almost immediately.
She was ‘stunned’ that a young man would keep a presentation photo from all those years ago, and then was further ‘stunned’ when she realised that I now lived on Macleay Island.
She then revealed her amazing story of ‘coincidence’.
It was not until her mother died in 2012 and going through her papers she made an amazing discovery.
Both she and her sister Janice had been adopted by her loving parents.
“Mum and dad never ever told us,” Narelle said.
“I was able to do some investigating, and a few days later discovered that I actually had a complete ‘another family’.
And here comes another stunning bit.
Two of her actual birth siblings live on Macleay Island!
Narelle discovered she has two ‘birth’ sisters and two brothers.
Her sister is Raylee Arthur who lives in Hastings Terrace, Macleay Island, with her husband John; and her brother Mike Purcell, who is currently building a new home in Aura Street, Macleay Island, with his wife ??
She also has another sister, Sue Martin. who lives at Banora Point, and another brother, Eric, who lives in Bowen, Queensland.
Fortunately, all her new-found siblings, welcomed Narelle with open arms.
Her adopted sister, Janice, also discovered she also had another welcoming family.
Narelle’s birth parents were Bill and Phyllis Purcell.
Narelle was born in 1949 in Albury, NSW, and was initially named Elizabeth Purcell.
She was the fourth child within just over three years years for the then struggling couple.
They clearly could not afford a fourth new baby just after the end of the Second World War, and Narelle was put up for adoption.
Her siblings say that their parents never ever spoke of Narelle or the adoption and, because they were so young themselves, they were never aware of Narelle until her first contact almost four years ago.
As Shakespeare wrote, All’s Well that Ends Well.
Narelle has no bad feelings or memories to contend with.
“I can only presume my birth parents literally could not afford a fourth young baby way back in 1949.
“I had very loving parents in Clive and Mavis Hackney and a wonderful life growing up with my sister Janice, in Goulburn and later at Mollymook on the South Coast.
“I love that I have this new-found family to enjoy and visit.
“I have visited Macleay Island on several occasions in the last couple of years, and finding Gerard Thompson here after all this time, is pretty special too.
“It has brought back some wonderful memories,” Narelle said.
“I have bonded so well with my new family. They have all been so lovely.
“It is so scary how alike we are.”
Brother Mike told The Friendly Bay Islander: “ It was a total shock when Narelle contacted us. We had no idea.
“Our parents never said anything or spoke about the past.
“I was amazed how alike Narelle was to the rest of us. We have many similarities.
“And discovering our new sister has just been wonderful,” he added.
• Narelle and her partner Gerard Thompson at the Presentation Ball in 1966
• Narelle (right) with two Macleay Island siblings Raylee (left) and brother Mike