THOUSANDS of Australians have been logging on to our sister newspaper site - Uttoxeter News – to view a two-year-old story about a stately home and its occupants.
The online boom follows a repeat episode of Channel 4’s Country House Rescue, featuring Tean’s Heath House, on Australian network ABC1.
Originally shown in March 2010, the programme followed the Phillips family’s project to turn the property built by their ancestors into a successful wedding venue.
Seventy-five-year-old John Phillips, whose good-natured sparring with presenter Ruth Watson was a popular feature of the show, died from leukaemia in August 2011.
His wife, Flavia, passed away three months later.
After an interview with their son, Ben, Uttoxeter News published a tribute story for the couple in December 2011.
However, since the repeat of Country House Rescue was aired ‘down under’, more than 3,500 Australian online visitors have accessed the story at www.uttoxeter-news.co.uk.
Ben Phillips has also received scores of emails from Australians wishing him luck and pledging to visit the venue.
He told the Post & Times: “Channel 4 had edited the programme to be in memory of my dear dad, and it has since been changed to pay tribute to mum too.
“I’m really touched by the messages of goodwill we’ve received and it’s great to know there are people out there really willing our project to succeed.
“We’ve been carrying out a lot of the suggestions made by presenter Ruth Watson during the show and things have really taken off.
“The building means so much to me and my family and we still live here.
“Our ancestors have lived on this land since around 1500 and it was my parents’ wish that we found a way to safeguard Heath House.
“It’s very sad that they’re not here to enjoy the work we’ve done, but I’m sure they’re looking down on us now, still supporting what we’re trying to achieve.” Heath House has had a busy summer season, putting on six weddings in the last two weeks.
The grounds are also used for historical tours and by community groups including the U3A, historical organisations and women’s institutes.
Mr Phillips said: “It’s great that the story and the documentary combined have given us exposure overseas and at home.
“It’s been a very difficult time for the family since my parents passed away as we’re all so close.”
The story can be viewed online at www.uttoxeter-news.co.uk/news, where visitors should search for ‘Heath House’.