Charity mini raises nearly $100,000

TEAM EFFORT: The group behind the Mini for Nelson Cancer Society fundraising project mark a successful end to their initiative.
TEAM EFFORT: The group behind the Mini for Nelson Cancer Society fundraising project mark a successful end to their initiative.

A crew of Wakefield men have raised nearly $100,000 for Nelson Cancer Society by raffling off a restored yellow Mini, but their effort has come at a price: the mini may leave Nelson.

Retired mechanic Bob Croy bought the 1975 Morris Mini Mark 3 for $750, recruiting John Bruce, Martin Reid, Dal Stewart, Nick Harrison and Chris Tonkin to restore it for the 2014 Relay for Life.

The men, calling themselves the Caffeine Crew, have been working on the car since 2012, and profits from the raffle will go to the Nelson Cancer Society.

A number of businesses, including Bowater Motor Group, have added their muscle to the project. Parts for the car have been provided, and others donated prizes for the raffle. The fundraising efforts got underway in November.

Senior constable Peter Cobeldick drew the winning tickets at Wakefield police station yesterday, selecting a ticket purchased by the principal of Levin Intermediate, Trevor Jeffries, for first prize.

Mr Jeffries and his family visited Nelson for the Woollaston Jazz & Blues Nelson Festival in the first week of January, picking up the winning ticket at the Nelson Market. He said he had not given much thought to what he would do with the car if he won, saying he simply wanted to support the Cancer Society.

Mr Jeffries said he was still considering whether he would keep the mini: "I don't need another car, I've got plenty of vehicles, and my kids all have cars and motorbikes."

He said his staff at the school were very excited, however, saying they had suggested placing advertising on the distinctive car and using it as a school vehicle.

"They'd all be willing to run errands so they could drive it."

He said he would keep thinking about whether there was a way to further support the Cancer Society using the mini.

Mr Croy said his crew had hoped the car would remain local, but they were sure Mr Jeffries would greet it with excitement. He described the journey of building it as "a chapter closing pretty quickly".

"It's a bit strange. We were hoping to see it around Nelson, but somebody else is going to see it."

He said the group were still waiting for some fundraising to come through, but they estimated the balance at around $97,000. Mr Croy said the final balance would come "very close" to $100,000.

Linda Lucre, centre manager for the Nelson Cancer Society, said the Caffeine Crew had done an amazing job.

"It shows you what a group of people can do when they club together, have a common interest and [are] keen to use their expertise and contacts."

The Relay for Life Nelson Tasman will be held at Saxton Field on Saturday, March 1. Ms Lucre said there was still time to register a team, and thanked all of those who were involved with fundraising.

The remaining raffle prizes were won locally, with Nelson woman June Wright winning a travel package worth $18,000; Richmond woman Debbie Smith scoring a weekend at Awaroa Lodge in the Abel Tasman National Park; and Brightwater woman Lavinia Livingston being awarded a Hanmer Springs package.