Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 15:54 UK

Couple prepare for estate raffle

Oldborough Estate house: Pic Brian Wilshaw
The raffle for the house and estate closed almost three months early

A Devon couple hoping to beat the slowdown in the housing market by raffling off their home are making final preparations for the draw.

Brian and Wendy Wilshaw's 11-acre estate at Morchard Bishop, near Crediton, includes a house, fishing lake and holiday cottages.

It is worth 1m, but the lucky new owner could snap it up for 25.

Having sold 46,000 tickets, entries are now being verified. The Wilshaws hope to draw the winning ticket next month.

We just can't believe our luck - it's been phenomenal
Brian Wilshaw

"We've just a few loose ends to tie up before we're ready to make someone's dream come true," Mr Wilshaw told BBC News.

"At the moment, we're in the process of ensuring databases match up so there are no anomalies and everyone who's paid their money has a valid number for the draw."

The 64-year-old heating engineer and his 49-year-old wife bought the Oldborough estate in 1994 and ran it as a small holiday park until 2006.

It was put on the market last year, but, when it failed to sell, the couple came up with the unusual idea of a raffle.

Media interest

Not only was it one way to beat the credit crunch, they said, but it would be the "chance of a lifetime" for the winner.

Legally, in order for the raffle to go ahead, it had to be run as a competition with a question that 10-20% of the population could answer.

The Wilshaws closed the raffle almost three months ahead of schedule once the 46,000 tickets had been sold - enough to cover the estate's asking price, stamp duty and the competition's running costs.

"We just can't believe our luck - it's been phenomenal since the media got hold of the story," Mr Wilshaw said.

Oldborough Estate holiday lodge: Pic Brian Wilshaw
The estate includes holiday set around a fishing lake

"Most of the entries have come from Britain - mainly England - but after it was in the Washington Post and the New York Times, we got entries from the US.

"It seems to have grabbed the attention of a lot of people - with folk logging onto the website every few days to see the number of entries clicking upwards.

"It's been a bit like a soap opera, with people desperate to know what's happened."

Mr Wilshaw said he and his family had been touched by the number of e-mails from well-wishers.

The draw winner's prize includes a five-bedroom house, four two-bedroom holiday cottages and a two-acre lake, stocked with a variety of fish such as perch, carp and tench.

"As soon as everything's checked, we'll go ahead with the draw - probably in three to four weeks," Mr Wilshaw said.


SEE ALSO
Two arrests over cancelled raffle
20 Dec 06 |  North East Wales
Estate agent raffles off her home
29 Mar 06 |  North East Wales
Pair raffle home for 25 a ticket
03 Jun 05 |  Cambridgeshire

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