JENNY LING - Dominion Post, Saturday 22nd March 2008
CHARITY DATE FOR 'LOST AT SEA' SUIT
A Wellington property developer is cashing in on one of New Zealand's most extraordinary survival stories with plans to give potentially large sums to charity.
Ian Cassels recently paid $15,000 for the wetsuit that helped to keep Rob Hewitt alive for 75 hours as he drifted off the Kapiti Coast in February 2006.
The money has gone to Coastguard Mana and Life Flight Trust, which runs the Wellington Westpac rescue helicopter.
Mr Cassels plans to auction the wetsuit on eBay after the documentary Lost at Sea: The Rob Hewitt Story screens on the National Geographic channel next February. He will further give two-thirds of any offers over $15,000 to the two charities.
Mr Cassels, managing director of The Wellington Company, was among those who attended a February 7 auction at the Plimmerton Boating Club.
A bid of $10,000 was placed for Mr Hewitt's wetsuit - which he gave to thank those who helped save his life - but it failed to meet the reserve.
Mr Cassels and his partner, Caitlin Taylor, have since arranged to buy the wetsuit through event organiser Chris Gollins.
"Caitlin thought is was a good idea," Mr Cassels said.
"I have no idea whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. It could just be a piece of useless rubber."
Mr Hewitt was diving in the Coromandel when he heard the news about the sale.
He said he was pleased with Mr Cassels' plans to help the charities.
"It's all about helping these two organisations," he said. "If they can get out there a little bit faster then it's worth it."
Mr Cassels played along with The Dominion Post photographer's request to get into the three-piece Royal Navy Sequel suit at Oriental Bay this week.
He plans to mount the suit in a glass case and hang it in his office till the documentary is screened.
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