Orpington man missing, feared dead, after boat disappears off New Zealand coast (From This Is Local London)
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Orpington man missing, feared dead, after boat disappears off New Zealand coast
Matthew Wootton was one of a crew of seven on board the Nina when it went missing off the New Zealand coast.
AN ORPINGTON man is feared dead after a boat he was sailing disappeared off the New Zealand coast.
Matthew Wootton, of St Paul's Wood Hill, was three and a half years into a round the world trip when, on May 29, he boarded a 70 foot schooner called Nina.
The 35-year-old and six other crew members intended to sail from New Zealand to Australia.
Five days later the Nina disappeared, and despite repeated search and rescue attempts covering hundreds of square miles of the Tasman Sea, no traces have been found.
Two and a half months later Matthew’s parents have refused to give up hope he is still alive.
Father Ian Wootton, 65, said: "It is difficult as we have still got some hope but he has been missing for a long time.
"All the coastguard say is it is sunk despite the fact there is no wreckage, there is no evidence it has sunk."
Mother Susan Wootton, 62, added: "The New Zealand coastguard started looking for them on June 25 but stopped on July 4.
"Since then we have been privately funding searches.
"We had £100,000 in donations and we have spent all that searching but on Sunday (August 18) we ran out of money."
She said the best hope of finding the boat lies in looking through satellite images, which the public can help with here.
Mr and Mrs Wootton were too upset to talk further about their son, a Green Party activist who refuses to fly for environmental reasons.
Instead they showed News Shopper some messages sent by his friends.
One read: "I had the privilege of travelling with Matt while backpacking through New Zealand. What a person.
"Matt never took a moment for granted or let an opportunity pass.
"Watching him take in a new place or speak to a stranger was something beautiful."
Another said: "Matt has been an amazing friend and I am truly honoured to have had the privilege to have known him so well.
"I deeply admire Matt's honesty, his desire to make the world a better place, his love for life and adventure, his witty sense of humour, and most of all his love for his friends and family."
During his trip, Matthew had visited large parts of North and South America before moving on to New Zealand.
Donations towards further searches can be given here.
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