Boys snorkelling for ‘trea­sure’ stum­ble across stolen purse

Nelson Mail - - News - Paula Hul­burt paula.hul­[email protected]

Two boys snorkelling for trea­sure in a Marl­bor­ough river stum­bled across the real thing when they spot­ted ‘‘some­thing sparkly’’ in the wa­ter.

Flynn Tay­lor, 12, and Ma­son Nick­lin, 11, from Spring Creek, near Blen­heim, were swim­ming in the Pelorus River on Wed­nes­day when they found an old ta­pes­try and metal purse.

Ma­son said the pair swam over the same spot sev­eral times be­fore Flynn spot­ted the metal catch on the purse about 3 me­tres down.

‘‘At first I thought they were fresh­wa­ter cray­fish eyes, but when I found the purse I was re­ally ex­cited,’’ he said. ‘‘I thought it might have gold or gems in it.’’

They swam over to the rocks and opened the purse to find a col­lec­tion of badges.

‘‘We thought some­one might have chucked it, [be­cause] why would you bring badges down to the river?’’ Ma­son said.

Some of the badges were from a Nel­son bowl­ing club, and after some sleuth work, Ma­son’s mother Rara­mai Nick­lin man­aged to track down the purse’s owner.

The purse and badges be­longed to Lee Charlett, of Nel­son. She had in­her­ited them from her mother, Beryl White, who died last year aged 97.

On De­cem­ber 9, Charlett’s home was bur­gled. The thieves made off with the purse, among other things.

She said she was ‘‘in­cred­i­bly thank­ful’’ the badges has been found, and be­lieved the thief or thieves had thrown them into the river.

‘‘They were proper scum­bags,’’ she said.

‘‘They’d ri­fled through the whole house, open­ing draw­ers and steal­ing things that are very pre­cious to us.

‘‘It was a hor­ri­ble feel­ing to know they had been through our house,’’ Charlett said.

‘‘I was blown away when I heard the purse had been found.’’

Her mother, a for­mer nurse and Jus­tice of the Peace, was born in Gladstone in South Aus­tralia, and re­tired to New Zealand in 1973.

She was a for­mer pres­i­dent at Tahu­nanui Bowl­ing Club in Nel­son, and a past pres­i­dent of Probus. She died at Sum­mer­set Re­tire­ment Vil­lage in Stoke on May 19 last year.

Charlett said her mother used to bring back badges from places she vis­ited, and kept the oth­ers as me­men­toes.

‘‘What an amaz­ing and lovely thing that the boys’ fam­i­lies were able to find me,’’ Charlett said.

Rara­mai Nick­lin said Ma­son and Flynn had been very ex­cited by their find.

‘‘They like to go out and look for trea­sure,’’ she said.

‘‘Flynn saw some­thing sparkly, and Ma­son dove down to get it. They were re­ally in­ter­ested in the badges, and thought it was re­ally cool that they can go back to the fam­ily.’’

The boys hope to hand over the badges in per­son the next time Charlett is in Marl­bor­ough.

PHO­TOS: SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Friends Flynn Tay­lor, 12, left and Ma­son Nick­lin, 11, were snorkelling in the Pelorus River when they found a stolen purse.

Badges found in the purse be­longed to Beryl White, 97, who died last year.

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