Hamish Marsden - Young talent's future cut short

By Michele McPherson, Obituary - by Genevieve Helliwell

Hamish Marsden was a talented young man with the world at his fingertips. He was two months shy of his 23rd birthday when he tragically died but the bubbly, vivacious young man had much to celebrate in his short life.
Hamish had just received a promotion at his job, had planned to travel overseas with his brother and continue his passion as one of New Zealand's leading drift car drivers.
Hamish and his mother moved to the Western Bay of Plenty when he was 5. He spent much of his childhood in Tauranga and attended Omokoroa Number One School then Bethlehem College. He finished his studies at the end of fifth form and worked as an apprentice at Paramount Stainless, focusing on sheetmetal fabrication.
Hamish was a "self-taught genius mechanic" and learnt advanced skills well beyond his modest age, his mother Sally Williams said.
She remembered studying floristry at polytech and brought home mechanic books, which Hamish would read from start to finish.
"I couldn't get him to read a school book but he read those books from cover to cover. Right from when he was young, he showed huge potential," she said.
Hamish saved his money and bought his first car when he was 15. He joined the Tauranga Car Club, was recognised as up-and-coming talent and was one of the youngest people to be invited to the D1NZ, New Zealand Drifting Championships, when he was 17.
Mrs Williams said she had photos of Hamish on a skateboard aged 3, zooming along the pavement. She said there was "no surprise" her son liked "going fast".


In 2006, Hamish began drifting competitively. His need for speed saw him strongly advocate for a safe place in Tauranga where drivers could practise drifting and other exercises. Hamish's talents were not limited to the racing track - he was a trade qualified sheetmetal engineer. He trained in Tauranga but moved to Auckland when he was 20 to pursue a career at Jamar Industries. His advanced skills came in handy and he built most of his cars from the ground up. "If he damaged them or had a new idea he would strip the car right back and build it again from scratch," Mrs Williams said.
"The car he has now [a Nissan Silvia 200SX] he bought about two years ago for about $50 off the side of the street and within 24 hours of him bringing it home, he had cut it down into the ute-shape and had started to build the roll cage."
"[Motorsport] was his life ... and he had such a bright future," Mrs Williams said.
Before his death, Hamish had started saving money for a trip to Japan - the home of drifting. "It was his dream to go to Japan for a few weeks and see where it all started but with the tsunami that changed things a little bit," Mrs Williams said. Standing in her son's bedroom, Mrs Williams said on the wall was a laminated map of the world. On one side it said "world number one" and on the other side it said "drifter".
"That was his dream, he wanted to be number one on the planet," she said.
Mrs Williams said family was very important to Hamish and he had a strong relationship with his older brother Gareth. "They were very supportive of each other and they were amazing mates. Hamish was such a lovable person, he had such an incredible sense of humour."
Hamish's father Craig Marsden said his son had "an infectious personality that spanned generations".
"He was so well loved by a big cross-section of the community. He was so talented, not only in his chosen hobby, but in his profession he was years above his age."
Mr Marsden said Hamish was a "rare soul" and his death will be a great loss to the community. Hamish's life will be celebrated today at St Columba Church, Botany Downs, Auckland.
Mrs Williams said there was a place on Hamish's website - www.hamishmarsden.com  - where people could confidentially email Hamish to help them process their grief.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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