Newlyweds Auction Best Man To Aid Region’s Rescue Helicopter

It’s certainly a unique wedding when the bride and groom give their guests what could be a life-saving gift.

When Burdekin couple Ureisha Tooma and Bristow Hughes tied the knot in Airlie Beach on October 15, a dance with their best man was auctioned off and raised an incredible $2000 for the region’s rescue helicopter, RACQ CQ Rescue.


Bristow said the origin of an auction at a wedding stemmed from a Canadian tradition in his mother’s family.

“Because there have been a few auctioneers in our family over the years, a new tradition started about 42 years ago which was auctioning off the garter with the proceeds going to the newlyweds,” he said.

“My cousin Justin Gattey is a world champion auctioneer and made the 20-hour journey from Canada to be with us, so we decided to put him to work at our wedding,” Bristow said

“We opted to auction off my best man James Simpson for a dance.”

Bristow said the couple made the decision to donate the money to the region’s rescue helicopter RACQ CQ Rescue which helps save hundreds of lives every year before the wedding.

“It’s a service so vital to people in the bush, where we are lucky to live and work,” he said.

Bristow and Ureisha are station managers for the family-run business Wentworth Cattle Co and operate an 82,000-acre property near Burdekin River. His parents also run a station near Collinsville.

Bristow said the Mackay-based rescue helicopter was a cause very close to their hearts and even more important now they had a 14-month-old daughter.

“In May in 2013 Ureisha was in an accident on a rural property which resulted in her breaking an arm and leg and she was transferred by RACQ CQ Rescue to Mackay Base Hospital,” he said.

“An incident at our Collinsville property last year again required the rescue helicopter to fly an employee and a contractor to Townsville for emergency medical treatment after an accident.

“The rural industry is very fortunate to have this valuable helicopter service and Ureisha and I chose this opportunity to show our gratitude and say thank you with this donation,” he said.

The auction was a huge success and provided great entertainment for the 150 wedding guests. Bidding initially closed at $1500.  But the dance with James, who is a former Emerald Agricultural College student and helicopter pilot in the Northern Territory, was then donated back and raised another $500.

The winning bidder was former Mackay man and Ureisha’s uncle Hayden Gray. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very long dance.

“It actually only lasted about 10 seconds, but it was just unreal to raise so much money,” Bristow said.

“My aunt and my mum enjoyed a bidding war but it was definitely the cause which raised the funds – not the actual prize.”

Bristow said he encouraged others to think of novel fundraising ideas to help support the rescue helicopter service which proved vital to the region on so many occasions.

“Who knows, maybe this will be the start of a new Aussie wedding tradition?” he said.