Cherry Auction: first box of the season raises big bucks for Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation


Cherry King Sam Napoli with Joel Cosentino and Cherry Prince Alexey Olupova and Cherry Princess Clare Buchan.
Cherry King Sam Napoli with Joel Cosentino and Cherry Prince Alexey Olupova and Cherry Princess Clare Buchan.

BRIGHT and early this morning among the fruit sellers and buyers, Australia’s most lucrative box of cherries went under the hammer for the 25th annual Cherry Auction raising $106,950.

Held at Market City in Canning Vale and overseen by a special group of royals – and possibly the world’s only cherry monarchy, Cherry Princess Clare Buchan (8) and Cherry Prince Alexey Ulupova (8) – the season’s first box of cherries went under the hammer to fundraise for the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation to support WA children cared for at PMH and the soon-to-be Perth Children’s Hospital.

Sam Napoli from Balcatta Growers Market and Napoli Mercato in Harrisdale was named the 2016 Cherry King, when his $55,000 bid won the 5kg timber box of fire engine red cherries.

A common bond links Clare and Alexey; both children survived major strokes and have been cared for as patients at PMH throughout their young lives.

Clare suffered a stroke in utero, causing a brain injury which lead to epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

Thanks to the ongoing support of PMH’s Rehabilitation Department, where she receives intensive speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychology sessions, Clare is a happy and outgoing 8-year-old who does not let her disability deter her from always ‘having a go’.

Alexey experienced a stroke when he was just six weeks old, and was rushed to PMH with bleeding to his brain; soon after doctors discovered a large intra-abdominal tumour.

The initial stroke destroyed almost half of Alexey’s brain, leaving him with cerebral palsy, vision loss and seizures, and limited movement in the left side of his body.

Alexey was one of the first children in Australia to have access to a state-of-the-art piece of equipment funded by Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation known as a Robotic Arm at PMH’s Rehabilitation Department, which is producing amazing results and gradually increasing Alexey’s mobility in his left arm.

As part of the Cherry Auction’s silver anniversary celebrations, the Foundation gave a special plaque to the 2015 Cherry King, the Spud Shed’s Tony Galati, who has donated an incredible $150,000 to the Foundation through the Cherry Auction over the past several years.

Last year Mr Galati bid $50,500 for a 5kg timber box of the first cherries of the season to become the Cherry King.

Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation chief executive Denys Pearce said that since 1992 the Cherry Auction had raised more than $1 million for the Foundation to fund life-saving research, specialist staff, vital equipment, complementary services and capital projects at the hospital.