THE County Press Weekender report on November 1, 2019 ­— Top Fleet Street Snappers Exhibit Work at Dimbola ­— brought back memories of my first entry into print in 1970.

One of the ‘Fleet Street Snappers’ is David White.

In 1970, the County Press carried an advert from a publisher who planned to start a new IW magazine.

Artists and writers were sought as contributors to Wight Life.

I contacted the editor and attended a meeting at The Bugle, Newport, with a portfolio of my work.

The outcome of that led to me drawing portraits for not one but four magazines.

The publisher was already successfully running Manx Life magazine on the Isle of Man, and Wight Life was to be its sister magazine.

It was photographer David White who supplied images of notable Islanders for me to draw for Wight Life.

The magazine printed a different portrait each month.

David also took the scenic front cover photos.

One of the first Islanders I drew was Jim Evatt.

During the First World War, Jim came to the Island to recover from a leg wound at Albany Barracks Hospital.

This site later became Albany Prison.

After his recovery, he married and settled here.

He became a well known builder, and later in life, he had a window cleaning business in Newport.

Well known Yarmouth RNLI coxswain, Dave Kennett, featured early in Wight Life after David White took his photo for me to sketch.

Renowned Island marine artist Peter Leith was another memorable local I had the pleasure of drawing.

His artwork hangs in many Island and mainland homes.

Continuing the seafaring theme, David provided a photo of Alan Cundall.

Alan was Folly harbour master for 35 years, and he also ran a business on the River Medina as a sailing instructor.

Another local personality I sketched was popular Bembridge policeman, Ray Rowsell.

Of the 100-plus faces I drew for Wight Life, one lady to feature was Cowes councillor, Mary Halpin, who also served as town mayor.

Another well known face was hotelier, Josie Wellspring.

She ran the Oasis on Ryde Esplanade ­— a popular venue for wedding receptions and ballroom dancing.

After the first issue of the magazine, the editor asked me to draw portraits for Manx Life.

Once Wight Life was established, the publisher decided to launch Channel Island Life and City Life (London), and I drew portraits for those, too.

The two magazines that stayed in publication the longest were Wight Life and Manx Life ­— Channel Island Life and City Life were very short lived.

One notable woman I drew for Channel Island Life was the indomitable Dame of Sark.

Many years later, I visited that timeless Isle.

By then, Dame Sibyl Hathaway had passed away and her grandson had succeeded her.

What makes Sark unique is that no cars are allowed, except for one owned by the Sark ruler.

Everyone else gets around by foot, bicycle, horseback or tractor ­— and that includes visitors.

Try to imagine, if you can, the IW without cars.

A vision for the future under climate change?

To capture a memory of my visit to the Dame’s enchanted Isle, my photo was taken in her tranquil garden.

Channel Island Life lasted three years.

The publisher struggled to find feature writers to fill the pages.

Wight Life had no such problem.

City Life ran for two years and fell victim to the 1970s recession.

One well known London man I sketched was John Brangwyn Page, chief cashier at the Bank of England from 1970.

Everyone carried J. B. Page in their pocket or purse.

His signature was reproduced more times than anyone else in Britain at that time.

Each bank note was ‘signed’ by him as chief cashier.

He bought the original of my drawing.

I was delighted to sell it, but I never received a cheque with his famous signature on it.

The editor saw the potential investment value of Page’s cheque.

He asked J. B. Page to make the cheque out to him, and the editor in turn wrote a cheque to me.

I got paid, but the editor kept Page’s cheque for years until he eventually sold it to a collector.

He preferred not to tell me the selling price.

Of all the Manx Life people I drew, the only non-resident was Italian Giacomo D’Agostini.

He featured because he won ten Manx TT Motor Cycle Races, and later became a world champion Grand Prix road racer.

When I answered the small advert in the County Press in 1970, I had no idea I would end up drawing about 250 people in four magazines.

My ten years freelance with Wight Life and Manx Life ended in 1980 ­— I needed to move on.

Both publications continued for a while longer.

Wight Life closed before Manx Life did.

The publisher and editor then retired. I last heard from the editor in 2005 when he was 80-years-old.

He was pleased the Wight Life title had being resurrected, though the Wightlink reincarnation bears no resemblance to the original magazine content.

Isle of Wight Records Office says its archive has every issue of the original Wight Life, should anyone wish to browse through them.

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