Longford woolgrower Michael Lester remembers that his son Tim was an established journalist working in Sydney when he started paying $30 a half-hour for elocution lessons.
Tim Lester has progressed and progressed in his career, reaching the coveted status of foreign correspondent, working as the South-East Asia correspondent for the ABC. He was among the last two ABC journalists to leave East Timor, fleeing Dili on Tuesday in a dramatic escape from the escalating drama.
Lester was flown to Darwin, where he is understood to have remained yesterday. His father was looking forward to speaking to him again. ``He is very involved and very dedicated to his work and certainly he's suited to it,'' Mr Lester said.
``But the most reassuring thing to me is that he's very sensible and he knew when to get out.''
Lester had been based in Bangkok and commuted between there and Sydney, where his wife Katherine and children Alexander, 10, and Amy, 7, live. Mrs Lester, who is originally from Launceston, said her husband had been due to return to Sydney for two weeks' holiday on September 25.
But now she was unsure whether he would have to stay in Darwin or return to his base in Bangkok.
Mrs Lester said on Tuesday that she had learned to cope with the dangers of her husband's job.
``I worry about it but I don't get uptight about it because I figure, what will be, will be. You could get run over by a truck in Sydney tomorrow. I know Tim is very sensible and wouldn't take any unnecessary risks.''
Lester, 38, attended Oatlands District High School and The Hutchins School in Hobart. He won a national public speaking prize while at school. He worked in commercial radio in Sydney and with Southern Cross Television in Tasmania before moving to the ABC, first to Hobart and then to Sydney.
He worked as the NSW reporter on the 7.30 Report and later as a correspondent in the Middle East.
Mr Lester said his son was unlikely to want to do any other kind of work, even when it could turn dangerous. ``I think he's certainly found his niche in life. And if you're doing a job that you enjoy, that's a blessing, isn't it?''