Fundraising sign auction 'just snowballed'

Tapanui auction organiser Brendon Stuart holds the misspelt Raes Junction sign which sold for $590. Photo: Richard Davison
Tapanui auction organiser Brendon Stuart holds the misspelt Raes Junction sign which sold for $590. Photo: Richard Davison
The organiser of an unusual fundraising auction in West Otago says he was ''flabbergasted'' by the level of interest.

Tapanui's former street signs were destined for the recycling scrap heap until resident Brendon Stuart arranged to have the 113 signs auctioned at the West Otago Town and Country Club on Sunday.

The proceeds will go towards leukaemia treatment in Auckland for local 14-year-old Jock Davies.

After the Otago Daily Times reported on the novel idea on May 30, things ''went nuts'', Mr Stuart said.

''We'd had some strong local interest already, but all of a sudden we were getting emails and calls from Australia and across New Zealand. The interest shown has been astronomical. It's been mind-blowing.''

Initially hoping to make $1000, the auction had raised more than $16,500.

About 120 people were bidding on-site and via telephone, Mr Stuart said.

''I was thinking perhaps $50 or $60 for some of the more popular [signs] with surnames and the like, but our star item - the misspelt 'Raes Jucntion' signage - went for $590. It just snowballed.''

The fundraiser had ''brought the best out of people'', Mr Stuart said.

''We had an anonymous donor from Dunedin contribute 19 beautifully hand-crafted wooden toys to the auction, plus a heap of sports memorabilia donated, so it all added up. It was a really heartening, positive community atmosphere.''

Jock's parents, Blue Mountain College deputy principal Peter Davies and wife Sarah, had been presented with the former road sign for their street after the auction.

Mr Davies said he and his family had been ''stunned, but not surprised'' by the generosity of bidders.

''The local community is pretty amazing, so although it was a bit surreal to see the total raised, in a way you're not surprised.''

Jock will head to Auckland today for a bone marrow transplant, followed by four months' treatment in the city.

Mr Stuart said he was delighted the community had rallied round to make the auction a success.

''It was an unforgettable day. Typical Tapanui.''

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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