|FORMER LISBURN MAN VISITS NEW CITY AS PART OF WORLD TOUR|
A MAN who left Lisburn 31 years ago as a young widower to begin a new life with his three children is currently enjoying an extended stay in the area as part of a very stylish round the world trip.
Sam Rollins who now lives in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is making his 11th circumnavigation of the globe in first class comfort.
He has already stopped off in South Africa where he visited Victoria Falls and Soweto to view the former home of the country's president Nelson Mandela.
Following his stay in Lisburn he will travel to London on August 2 to catch a Concorde flight to New York - the realisation of an ambition which has lasted for many years.
There are many sights there he wants to see before travelling on to other destinations.
At present he is staying with relatives at Dunygarton Road in Maze - not a million miles from his birthplace at Maghaberry where he entered the world in January 1940.
He attended the local school before moving to Broomhedge at the age of eight.
For the next three years he went to Brookfield School before transferring to the William Foote Memorial School in Lisburn where he remained until the age of 14.
His next place of learning was Lurgan Technical College which he left when he was 16 to begin work as an apprentice carpenter with local builder Isaac Lyons.
Mr. Rollins said he could well remember Mr. Lyons saying: "I tell you young Sammy, when you are finished with me you will be able to go anywhere."
"I thought that would be here in Northern Ireland - not as far away as New Zealand," he laughed. 'Young Sammy' certainly put his heart and soul into his apprenticeship.
He attended Lurgan Technical College for evening classes four nights per week for two years.
He had to cycle there from Broomhedge in all sorts of weather.
"I remember waiting for my sister Barbara to come home from Culcavy Factory so I could put on her warm gloves," he added.
At the age of 18 he and his friend Jim Kelly made plans to go to Australia.
However, Mr. Rollins parents refused to give their consent and he vowed to go at the age of 21.
Marriage intervened and once out of his apprenticeship he joined the team constructing the bridges at Sprucefield for the new Ml motorway.
"Some of this work was carried out during the heavy snowfall of 1963," he recalled.
"After Sprucefield I took on 'my first supervisory role in the building trade at the construction of the bridge at Moira where the motorway crosses the railway line.
"I then became Formwork Construction Supervisor on all the bridges between Sprucefield and Moira and from Lurgan to the Birches."
This was certainly hard work as Mr. Rollins explained: "The concrete was being placed 24 hours a day all week," he said.
"I remember leaving the job at 2.00am and being back again at 8.00am on many occasions."
Once the bridges had been completed he moved to a precast yard at Annaghmore near Dungannon making bridge beams and light standards for the M2 which was then also under construction.
He was just 29 when the world in which he and his three children lived fell apart with the death of his young wife Iris.
"I was lost for an answer as to what was happening and what I should do for myself and my three children," he said.
"In 1971 I decided to make my move and I noticed an advertisement seeking people to work in New Zealand.
"It spoke of single men only or married men without children but when the company found out at the interview I had been involved in bridge construction they wanted me to go to New Zealand as soon as possible."
In 1971 it was possible to travel to New Zealand for an assisted passage cost of £10.
The government of the country, however, was reluctant to take on Mr. Rollins and his three children in case they became a liability to the state so his new employers paid the fares.
They left Lisburn on March 11, 1971: "To this day I have never had any regrets about taking my children to New Zealand," he said.
Mr. Rollins' first job in New Zealand was the construction of a bridge over the country's largest river, the Waikato, 150 miles south of Auckland.
He then worked in different cities around the North Island before being asked to go to the Indonesian Island of Sumatra to build a bridge for Mobil Oil.
He then went to an island off the coast of Borneo called Sulawezi to construct a cement works close to limestone mountains
"I returned to Auckland only to be sent a telegram telling me to go to the highlands of Papua, New Guinea to supervise the construction of buildings for a water recirculation scheme to supply the town of Mount Hagan," he said.
Mr. Rollins also worked in Saudi Arabia but on Good Friday, 1995 he remarried.
His new wife Phyllis also came from Northern Ireland and was the daughter of one of his former employers in the province.
Together, they started a curtain manufacturing business and Phyllis achieved a great deal of success in the sport of lawn bowls taking junior and senior titles.
Sadly, personal difficulties forced her to return to Northern Ireland in late 1999 and one of the reasons for Mr. Rollins' current visit was to join her in her birthday celebrations.
They hope she will be able to go back to New Zealand fairly shortly.
Meanwhile, this 'son of Lisburn' intends to fully enjoy the rest of his round the world tour - it's certainly a luxury he's worked very hard to afford.