It was a moment frozen in time - the historic evening in 1962 when legendary runner Peter Snell broke the world mile record at Cooks Gardens.

It was an event that Whanganui man Ken Broughton never forgot. He was one of the timekeepers whose job was to officially record the times of the competitors.

Ken died in 1985, but his son Graham and daughter-in-law Carolyn have kept the stopwatch - engraved on the back with Ken's name - along with the programme from the night and Ken's official timekeeping ribbon, signed by Peter Snell.

"They had three timekeepers in those days, to make sure the time was accurate," Graham said.

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"Dad was the second timekeeper."

Ken was born in Australia in 1897, and moved to Whanganui at the age of 14. He fought during World War I, receiving a sniper's wound at the Battle of the Somme, and later became a dentist.

But how he came to be a timekeeper on that night at Cooks Gardens in 1962 is a mystery.

"Dad always had an interest in athletics, and he was a member of the Wanganui Athletics Club. But we don't know how he ended up as a timekeeper for this event," Graham said.

But Ken was proud of his involvement with such an historic event.

"He always said it was a really big occasion - momentous was the word he used."

Graham and Carolyn aren't entirely sure what will happen to the stopwatch once they've passed away.

"If our kids aren't interested in it, we'll probably give it to a museum," Carolyn said.

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