Philip Pullman to name new book character after Grenfell Tower victim

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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A teenage girl who lost her life in the devastating Grenfell Tower fire looks set to be immortalised in the most fitting of ways: as a character in an upcoming book penned by Philip Pullman.

The news comes less than a week after the bestselling author invited bidders to name a character in his forthcoming book, published next year, in order to raise money for the British Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund, which is helping survivors of the tragedy.

While the bidding doesn’t close until 8pm today, there has been overwhelming support for a proposal from teacher James Clement, who bid £1,500 to have the character named after his former student Nur Huda el-Wahabi.

The 16-year-old is believed to have died in the tower alongside her family, including her parents Abdul Aziz and Fouzia, and her siblings Yasin, 21, and Mehdi, 8.

Writing on the auction page (below), Clements said, “The real Nur Huda was an ex-pupil of mine who lived in Grenfell Tower and didn’t make it out of the building that night.

“A life that was so full of promise has been cut short in the most terrible way. As well as raising some money, this would mean her name would live on. Plus Nur Huda is a pretty cool name for a character.”

Clements’ heartbreaking proposal certainly struck a chord with visitors to the website, with over £27,440 being raised so far in support of his bid (at the time of writing).

“Another £100 to add to James’ bid, with love to Nur Huda, others lost and those left behind,” wrote one bidder.

“Can’t stop the tears this morning. £50 from us too,” added another.

Writers including One Day author David Nicholls and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time author Mark Haddon also voiced their support for the bid while donating money to the cause, with Haddon taking to Twitter to share a photo of Nur Hada (below).

Writing on the charity page last week, Pullman opened the bids to name a character in the second part of his new trilogy, The Book of Dust, the first part of which is set to be published in October.

“The right to name a character doesn’t guarantee that he or she will be good, bad, beautiful or otherwise, but it will be a speaking role with a part to play in the plot,” he wrote.

And responding to the overwhelming support to name the character after Nur Hada, his long-term editor David Fickling said, “None of us ought ever to forget the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, but lest we do one of the best places to keep the memory always alive is surely in the pages of one of our greatest storytellers Philip Pullman.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Images: Social Media