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Elderly Widower Finds A Fishing Partner After Posting A Tearjerking Classified Ad

Getting old can be difficult in myriad ways. In fact, it seems like the older you get, the more your life is defined by loss. Unfortunately, the longer you live, the more people you will know who pass away; both because you’ve met more people than someone younger, and also because the elderly are more prone to health ailments, falls, etc. However, despite facing these heartbreaking problems, one elderly man turned to the internet to help him find a fishing partner.

A Gumtree Fishing Partner

Ray Johnstone, 75, was having a tough go of it at the start of February, 2017. Not only was the Australian man a widower, but he had also recently lost his fishing partner.

While you certainly can fish alone, fishing is often used for quiet camaraderie. However, Johnstone was resourceful. He came up with the idea to post an ad on the classified site, Gumtree, an Australian version of something like Craigslist.  (1)

Johnstone’s Fishing Ad

It started both simply and heart-wrenchingly “My name is Ray Johnstone. I’m a widowed pensioner who is looking for a fishing mate. My previous fishing mate is now deceased.”

After explaining that he was a land-based fisherman with all the gear he would need, he ended with a hopeful reach into what must have felt like an internet void  “If interested,” he wrote, “contact me either at my email address or phone to arrange a meeting to see if we could get along with each other.”

Then, he added a picture, and listed the item condition–in this case, himself–as ‘used.’ (1)

The Post Reaction

The ad attracted 115,000 views and ended up going viral on Twitter, with people expressing their support for Johnstone using the hashtag, “IllFishWithRay ” 

Then, Facebook group “All Things Fishing Sydney” started a GoFundMe. They were trying to raise money to bring Ray to Sydney, paying for his food, lodging, and “any costs associated to get him fishing.” If money was left after this, it would go to “Ray himself or a charity if he chooses as such.” As of February 9th, 2017, the GoFundMe had almost doubled their goal of $1,000. (1)

But did Ray ever find a fishing partner?

He did. Mati Batsinilas, 22, responded to Ray’s ad. Even better, he and Ray got along famously. Johnstone said Basinilas was “a lovely young man.” Batsinilas paid for Ray to take a fishing trip with him in Queensland. (1, 2)

The Old Mate Campaign

Inspired by Johnstone, Spur Projects started something called the “Old Mate Campaign.” The goal is to encourage young Australians to think about spending time with older people. CEO Lee Crockford says that “men aged 80+ suicide the most out of any age group in Australia… and it’s a statistic that’s not really spoken about at all.”

They want project participants to spend at least an hour a week with an older person who needs the company. 

“If you don’t have an Old Mate, then we can try to connect you with aged care providers,” their website offers. “Once you’ve signed the pledged, we have almost 70 fun and engaging activities for you and your Old Mate to do together—no matter where you live, your Old Mate’s capacity, or your budget.” (2, 3)

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