The kindness of strangers

Brothers raise money for Matamata pensioner

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 11:33 31/01/2013
Hugh Pickering
Chris Hillock/Fairfax NZ
WITHOUT HIS WHEELS: Matamata 94-year-old Hugh Pickering, whose 1977 Mazda 323 was stolen.

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Two Wellington brothers are doing their utmost to raise money for 94-year-old Matamata pensioner Hugh Pickering after his beloved 35-year-old Mazda 323 was stolen.

Joel Briggs, a spray-painter, and his brother Joshua have set up a Facebook page outlining their various fund-raising endeavours, which include a Trade Me auction, a sausage sizzle and Joel trying to win a sculpture competition.

Mr Pickering - a World War II veteran - discovered his garage door open and his car gone on January 16.

He bought it new in 1977 and had only been using it recently to visit the grave of his late wife, Iris, and for grocery shopping.

Joel Briggs said neither he nor his brother had ever met Mr Pickering, but they were touched when they heard about his plight.

''It wasn't a very nice thing to do to a guy that age,'' he said. ''By the looks of it, he put a lot of time and love into that car to keep it in such good condition.''

Mr Briggs said he was also a car enthusiast with a soft spot for old Mazdas like the one Mr Pickering owned.

''The unfortunate thing about the vehicle is that it's the kind of car that a lot of rotary-mad enthusiasts would like and I believe that's why it was taken in the first place,'' he said.

''It would be for the parts. It's very rare to see a car of that model and age that mint.''

The Briggs brothers' Facebook page asks people to make donations to a special bank account.

They are also auctioning off a 6 centimetre Mazda RX7 toy on Trade Me. The bidding was at $300 and the page had more than 11,000 views late last night.

The boys will also be running a sausage sizzle at the Porirua Saturday Morning Markets in Cobham Court this weekend. The Mad Butcher has donated 300 sausages and the local New World has supplied some bread.

On top of that, Joel Briggs will also be competing in a sculpture competition at the Festival of the Elements at Te Rauparaha Arena on Waitangi Day in the hope of winning the $250 ''public vote'' prize money and adding it the Pickering fund.

Every cent the brothers raise will go straight to Mr Pickering.

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Joshua Briggs said he had spoken with the Matamata Police this week and they had told Mr Pickering what they were doing.

''He was quite blown away and a bit chuffed as well.''

Joshua and his brother hoped to visit Mr Pickering in a few weeks and present him with a ''juicy, big, fat cheque,'' he said.

- Waikato

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