The heartbreaking case of widowed pensioner Ray Johnstone has found itself an ending fit for the silver screen.
On January 19, Johnstone's plight to find a fishing buddy went viral after he took out an ad on Australian website Gumtree. The ad captured the minds and hearts of people around the world, as the search began to find a bloke good enough to wet a line with the 75-year-old.
And now, Johnstone’s family have confirmed that he has indeed found a mate to fish with.
The pensioner’s new fishing buddy is Mati Batsinilas, a 22-year-old from West End, Brisbane who was one of the many people who answered Johnstone’s plea after seeing the ad shared on Facebook. He also happens to be a keen fisherman.
Single-handedly restoring our faith in the kindness of strangers, Batsinilas has generously flown Johnstone, and his grandson, up to Queensland for an all-expenses paid fishing trip to Stradbroke Island.
Speaking with ABC Radio Brisbane's Craig Zonca, Batsinilas said, "I offered him a holiday away — and not just for fishing, but to get away and relax."
"I said from the beginning to Ray that we would get there and that I would commit to it and do it."
Batsinilas, who also brought his brother Nick along on the exciting expedition, revealed that the four men have managed to hook a large number whiting fish.
"We got about 25 at the moment and we're doing it to get Ray onto some big fish hopefully.”
"The weather gods have been on our side, which is cool."
Judging by the images Batsinilas has uploaded to Facebook, it seems the men have certainly reeled in a few decent sized fish.
Next on the agenda for the happy-fishermen is a four-wheel-driving adventure to catch beachworms, before Johnstone and his grandson head back to South Australia.
Speaking about the time he’s shared alongside ‘Gumtree Ray’, Batsinilas said, "He's here now and it's unreal ... I can't explain it in words."
"It's so good to see him smile.”
"The feedback has been unreal and the support from everyone has been phenomenal."
Johnstone’s original ad on Gumtree explained that he was in search of a fishing mate, as his previous companion had sadly passed away.
“My name is Ray Johnstone. Australian. I’m a widowed pensioner who is looking for a fishing mate. My previous mate is now deceased,” he wrote.
“What I want is a fishing mate in a similar position to myself who also wants someone to go fishing with.”
“I am willing to share all costs, e.g. petrol, bait, and should you happen to own a boat (I am) willing to pay all ramp fees, but happy if you are also a land-based fisherman.”
“If you are interested contact me to arrange a meeting to see if we could get along with each other.”