Back in tune: 95 year-old reunited with his childhood piano | PHOTOS

REUNITED: Surrounded by family, Jim Somerville was reunited with his childhood piano at it's new home at a farm in Medway. Photo: Charli Shield.
REUNITED: Surrounded by family, Jim Somerville was reunited with his childhood piano at it's new home at a farm in Medway. Photo: Charli Shield.

In 1916, Eileen Watts and Neville Somerville were given an August Foster piano on their wedding day.

On Saturday December 2, 2017, the son of that union, 95 year-old Jim Somerville, was reunited with the very same piano he played as a child, which had been restored after years of neglect. 

The piano now lives in the house of Craig and Hannah Hawkins at Arboath Farm in Medway.

They were given the piano by Mr Somerville’s son, Brian, an old friend of Mr Hawkins, five years ago. 

Mr Hawkins said the instrument was “in pretty bad shape” when they received it, and so commissioned piano restorer Jim Gogov to rehabilitate the piece.

“We moved into our new home a year ago, and one of the things that came with us was this old piano” he said. 

Upon restoring the piano earlier this year, the Hawkins decided to invite Mr Somerville and his four children to see the finished product. 

“Jim is a lovely gentleman and the piano still holds very dear memories for him,” Mr Hawkins said. 

Mr Somerville, who now lives in Mollymook, grew up in Cheltenham and learned to played the piano at seven years of age. 

He went on to become a renowned jazz pianist in Sydney during the 1940s and 1950s, playing as part of the Port Jackson jazz band, the Riverside jazz band and as the resident jazz pianist for venues like Reg Boom’s Coronia Club, the Roosevelt Club in Kings Cross and Kinneil Restaurant in Elizabeth Bay. 

In the 1980s he played piano six days a week at the David Jones city store in Sydney, retiring in 2003.

Carried up the stairs in his wheelchair by his three sons on Saturday, Mr Somerville was reunited with the instrument at it’s new home at Arboath Farm.

Seated at the piano, he took a moments pause before launching into a series of the tunes that carried his jazz career for so many decades.