By Marnie O'Neill
FOR nearly 40 years, Gary Fenton, one of Australia's most influential television executives, has been feeling guilty about an unpaid debt.
As a penniless 22-year-old backpacker in 1969, he borrowed a ferry fare worth £5 ($11) from another traveller, and promised to send the money when he could.
Now, Mr Fenton has quietly paid back British man Jim Webb - with interest. This week Mr Webb, 72, arrived at his home in England's north to find a hand-delivered parcel containing £200 ($439) and a note: "To Jim Webb, a good man. From Gary Fenton, a tardy payer of debts."
Mr Fenton, now Channel Nine's Olympic director, had only left an email address - so an emotional Mr Webb told his story to the BBC on Friday in the hope that his long-lost friend would see it.
Yesterday, The Sunday Telegraph tracked down Mr Fenton in London, where he was meeting International Olympic Committee executives.
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Mr Fenton had no idea that Mr Webb had gone public with the story.
"When I got back to Australia after hitchhiking around the world 40 years ago, I was broke and I went back home to live," he recalled.
"After I got my first pay cheque, I said to my mother, 'Where's that address that was on the mantelpiece?'
"She said, 'I don't know, it must have been thrown out.' "
Six months ago, a year after their mother's death in Melbourne, Mr Fenton's brother sent him a box of his mother's belongings.
"She kept all the cards and letters I had sent her from when I'd travelled, and out fell the address," Mr Fenton said.
Knowing he had an upcoming trip to the UK, Mr Fenton decided to visit Mr Webb and honour his debt.
"So last Sunday, I got the train to Sheffield and knocked on the door but there was no answer," he said.
"I spoke to the neighbour and said, 'Does Jim Webb still live here?' And they said 'Yes'. And I said, 'Is he still in good health?' They said 'Yes', he was.
"So I put a package through the letterbox hole in the door and went on my way and that was the last I heard until five minutes ago when you rang."
Mr Webb told the BBC: "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 ... 40 years is a long time. It must have been preying on his mind that he hadn't repaid his debt."