The creative imagination of a nine-year-old Cubbington schoolgirl has won her the best prize she could have hoped for in a UK-wide Ikea competition.
Leah Cliffe’s design of her imaginary friend, Bobby Hurbutt, impressed designers at the Swedish global giant so much that she was selected - out of more than 3,000 children across the country - as winner of Ikea’s soft toy competition, which was launched last year.
And as her prize, a team from the firm’s Coventry store presented her with an exclusive toy of Bobby at a special assembly at Cubbington Primary School on Wednesday, which had been made just for Leah by Ikea’s design team at its head office in Sweden.
Speaking after seeing Bobby for the first time, Leah - who told the Courier she came up with the idea of creating him after he appeared in a dream - said: “I’m very happy and very proud of me.”
The nine-year-old said he would take pride of place on her bed.
The competition was run as part of Ikea’s Soft Toys For Education campaign, which raises funds for UNICEF and Save The Children to go towards children’s education projects across the world. Since the campaign began in 2003, £67 million has been donated to the two charities.
As part of the campaign, £1 or one euro for every toy of campaign mascott, Fabler Bjorn, sold in Ikea stores is donated to the cause.
At the assembly at Cubbington Primary School, Fabler himself came to meet the whole school and Ikea staff told pupils about an education project in Cambodia that has been supported by the campaign.
Headteacher Cathy Clarke said: “We are all so proud of Leah and tremendously excited to have Ikea with us today to present the toy.
“It also provides us with a brilliant opportunity to talk to the children about their peers in developing countries, who don’t have the same privileges that we all too often take for granted.”
Leah’s mum Tanya Cliffe said: “We found out Leah had won through a phone call during the Easter holidays. Leah took it all in her stride. It hit her later that she had won out of everyone in the country.”
Leah’s dad Nigel Cliffe said: “Leah has been drawing that character for three or four years. She wanted to draw an alien. She has a wild imagination.”
Mrs Cliffe added: “Bobby now has a wife and children! Leah is very excited to have him for herself. It’s amazing. She is very creative and always drawing.”
In next year’s competition, Ikea plans to develop the winner’s toy for the market and so it will be available on store shelves across the country.