Boys snorkelling for ‘treasure’ stumble across stolen purse
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.
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.