A British film fan has raised over ten thousand pounds for the national disability charity Sense, by holding a prize draw to win a unique book, packed with over 170 autographs from the cast and crew of the iconic Star Wars films, including Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and British actor John Boyega.
Neil Ellis, 43 from Elstree, Hertfordshire, began collecting the autographs when he landed his dream job in the costume and props department at Lucasfilm, working on the first instalment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens. At the same time he created a spectacular Millennium Falcon themed bronze-cast to display the book.
Neil says he made the decision that the book should benefit charity early on, but was reluctant to put it to auction as he wanted a "real fan" to win it. He instead invited people interested in winning the book to donate to his online fundraising page, with as little or as much as they like, in exchange for a place in a prize draw. Incredibly, in only a matter of months, the fundraising total has exceeded ten thousand pounds.
Neil said: "This is a truly amazing prize and I’m so pleased a genuine fan has a chance to win it. My friends and family think it's great, but wonder why I didn't compile two, so I could keep one!"
The first star to sign the book was Andy Serkis, and Neil says he was most excited to get Harrison Ford’s name in it. Other stars include Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker from the original series, and new series' directors Gareth Edwards and Rian Johnson.