‘Harley's House' looks set to become a reality after The Harley Staples Cancer Trust, set up in memory of eight-year-old Harley who died of a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia, won a £250,000 house from Persimmon Homes in a competition to celebrate the housebuilder's 40th birthday.
Persimmon Homes, one of Britain's biggest housebuilders, had 3,500 nominations from charities across the country, hoping to win the house. This was narrowed down to 24 finalists, chosen from each of Persimmon's 24 new homes regions.
"Our aim when we launched the competition was to give something back to the communities we have worked with for the last 40 years. During the final voting we were overwhelmed by over 130,000 votes (from the public) - a truly remarkable response," said Mike Farley, group chief executive of Persimmon.
A 40th birthday party with a difference was held at the Kensington Roof Gardens in London last week, with representatives from 24 charities from across the country joining Persimmon Homes staff for the announcement of the winner of the three-bedroom detached house in Andover, Hampshire, worth £250,000, which the Staples will now sell to fund ‘Harley's House.'
Harley's parents Jamie and Katherine Staples, expecting a baby in a few weeks, received the cheque from Farley in a highly emotional presentation, while the 23 other charities each received cheques for £6,000 from Persimmon.
"Our son Harley died of an aggressive leukaemia three years ago. We set a fund-raising target of £500,000 to build a holiday home in Leicestershire for children with cancer and their families to enjoy. We had raised £250,000 and have now hit the half a million pounds mark and can complete the dream. I can't thank Persimmon Homes enough and Harley's name will live on forever in this house," said Jamie Staples.
Among those who urged people to vote for The Harley Staples Cancer Trust were the rock band Kasabian, who are from Leicester.
"Harley loved his drums and met the band and they became friends. We also had great support in asking for votes from Leicester City football club and Leicestershire cricketers. We are now looking for a suitable plot of land in rural Leicestershire to build the house," added Jamie Staples.
Paul Hurst, managing director of Persimmon Homes North Midlands, said: "When we met Katherine and Jamie they inspired the whole office - they're just inspirational people."
Rupert Bates, editorial director of whathouse.co.uk, said: "The presentation ceremony was one of the most moving, humbling and inspirational events I've attended in more than 20 years covering the new homes industry. Any of the amazing 24 charities deserved the winning prize, but how fitting that Persimmon, a housebuilder, should help make Harley's House a reality."