Ian Foster

My High School principal advised my parents not to let me become a journalist or commercial artist (my two great loves - writing and sketching) because 'the marketplace is over-run with both and there is no future'. So when I left school I took a job as a shoe salesman, and bounced from job to job after that including a five year stint in the Royal Australian Navy submarine branch.

In 1980, I injured my spine at work severely enough to put me on a disability pension permanently, and my wife, becoming frustrated with my lying around the house feeling sorry for myself (I was 34 years old), enrolled me in a journalism course at what is now Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales.

During the next sixteen years, I studied for and achieved an Associate Diploma in Journalism, a degree majoring in Communications, and a Graduate Diploma in PR. Over the next 8 years, I worked on publicity and PR campaigns for the Naval Cadet service, the Myasthenia Gravis Association of Queensland, the National Corsair Sailing Association, and a number of other non-profit organisations in the state.

In 2001, I had a two-level spinal fusion performed, which allowed me for the first time in 21 years to seek work, albeit of a voluntary nature (nobody will employ somebody with a spinal problem due to insurance difficulties).

I've spent the last two years as Wide Bay Volunteers' (www.widebayvolunteers.asn.au ) newsletter editor, journo, Promotions team leader, and PR bod, and enjoy myself immensely working two mornings a week, with the vast bulk of my work being done at home.

I also work in these capacities for half a dozen UN-sponsored organisations, do musical performances at nursing homes and hospitals in the area, and am the principal carer for my wife, who is a partial invalid.

We have three daughters over 21 years of age (Oh! Joy! They've all left home!), and no grandchildren.yet.

And that's about it. Thanks to a principal who thought he knew more than he actually did, I had to wait until circumstances left me with no option but to take up studies, almost twenty years after I left school!