Smooth talkers get gongs

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Two motormouth MCs were stopped in their tracks when Queenstown’s outgoing mayor invited them to a local cafe early this month.

When broadcaster and councillor Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson was asked by Vanessa van Uden to meet her at Bobs Weigh, he assumed she wanted to chat about council affairs during her last week in office.

Unbeknown to him, real estate agent Brendan Quill – who’s compered hundreds of local fundraisers, many alongside Ferg – had also been invited to meet Van Uden, same time, same place.

Quill: “She sat us down, reached for her little black velvet bag with dangly chains, put them around her neck and said, ‘now, boys, be quiet’.”

Van Uden then presented them with mayoral citations, recognising their efforts in helping raise millions of dollars at local fundraisers over 20-plus years.

“I looked round at Ferg and we both had lumps in our throats,” Quill says.

“We don’t do it for the recognition like that, it’s to help people where they need help.”

Together or separately, the pair compere about six fundraisers a month.

Ferg: “We very seldom say ‘no’ because we know that together or individually we can help.

“And we wouldn’t be able to lie straight in bed if we’d said ‘no’.”

Quill adds: “Especially for children’s causes.”

Ferg says: “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better personality as an auctioneer than ‘Quilly’ in the country.”

When an organisation wants something auctioned, Ferg tries to rope in Quill, whom he introduces as ‘turbo tonsil’.

“Without him I wouldn’t get $50,000, I’d probably get $5000.”

Quill says they complement each other.

“I could certainly get carried away but Ferg is my leveller – he runs my diary, too.”

Ferg: “Sometimes you go to gigs where organisers give you screeds of notes.

“We throw them in the bin, just get started and see where we’ll end up.”

He says the citations are also a tribute to the understanding of their other halves.

Ferg also pays tribute to his mate Grant Stewart.

“He’s got a little wee [health] battle going on at the moment but ‘ve become better at doing this by being associated with him.”

Quill adds: “I’d like to thank everyone in Queenstown that actually does make a difference just by turning up [to fundraisers].

“If we can help people by just putting a smile on their faces, that’s wonderful, and all that Ferg and I need is a ‘thank you’.”

Ferg says Van Uden chose a perfect location to present their citations – “stuck in this little wee corner, next to the toilets”.

scoop@scene.co.nz