IT IS with great regret that we report on the passing of Malcolm Longstaff on 18 December.

Malcolm was born in England and came to Australia in 1940 at the age of seven. He was educated at St Peter’s College, Adelaide.

On leaving school he joined the shipping agency Macdonald, Hamilton & Co. (later P&O Australia). He spent 32 years with the company, including three years at sea from 1955 as purser of a cargo-passenger vessel trading between Australia, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, China and British North Borneo (now East Malaysia) south-east Asia operated by the E&A Line, a company associated with the P&O Group. On coming ashore in 1958 he joined P&O’s public relations department in Sydney.

Through the company’s national sponsorship of the Australian Junior Farmers Clubs, Malcolm represented P&O on the governing body of the organisation (later known as Rural Youth). He served as a member of the executive committee for 12 years including two years from 1968-1970 as the state president, being awarded life membership in 1973. In 2005, he completed a 75-year history of the organisation published under the title A Fruitful Season.

In 1983, he established a public relations consultancy and acted for Malaysia Airlines in Australia and New Zealand for 13 years.

From 1996 until his retirement in 2015 he undertook administrative and PR assignments in the shipping, transport, tourism and legal fields.

In 1990, Malcolm received the Australian Society of Travel Writers’ Communicator of the Year award and in 1997 was elected as an honorary member for service to the organisation.

Maintaining his interest in aviation, in 2001 he accompanied the London-Sydney Centenary of Federation Air Race as an honorary press officer, flying from England to Australia with a support team in a twin-engined Cessna Titan aircraft.

The same year he was elected as an associate member of The Company of Master Mariners of Australia for voluntary service to the company and was a member of the executive of the NSW Division of The Navy League of Australia from 1970-2019. He wrote a 120-year history of the League, published in 2015 under the title Keeping Watch.

Aside from his business activities, Malcolm has also had other interests.

From 1984-2007 he held various executive roles at both state and national levels in the Australia-Britain Society, founded in 1971 to maintain and enhance links between the two countries, focusing especially on youth exchange programs.

He is a life member and a past president of the Sydney Savage Club, founded in 1934 to fund scholarships for young Australian performing artists and is also a life member of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, where he served four terms as president.

From 2007-2020 he served on the Board of the Australian Mariners Welfare Society which provides financial assistance to seafarers’ missions in various Australian ports that offer hospitality and support to crews of visiting merchant ships. The Society also sponsors scholarships for young Australians planning a seagoing career to assist their studies at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. In 2020 he was appointed a Life Member for outstanding service to the Society.

Malcolm was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2009 Australia Day Honours List for service to the community through a range of maritime, social welfare, youth and cultural organisations.

He and his wife Margaret were married in 1964 and have two adult children, Sarah and Alister.