A relic from one of Blackpool’s favourite sons is going under the hammer.
A 50-year-old Sooty puppet is up for auction, with a direct link to the creator of the fluffy children’s favourite, Harry Corbett.
The cheeky bear was originally bought in Blackpool by Harry to amuse his sons Matthew and David whilst on a family holiday.
This bear is owned by Tina Stewart, who took her six-year-old son Kyle to see The Sooty Show at The Albert Halls in Stirling, Scotland – and the current guardian of the mute ursine magician, Richard Cadell, spotted the family’s well-worn glove puppet was extra special.
Mrs Stewart, from Dunblane, Scotland, said: “We took Sooty along with us and after the show met Richard – who immediately knew our puppet was an original.
“He pointed out his distinctive features - a longer body, leather pads and sawdust in his head. He mentioned that he might be worth a lot of money and told us to look after him.”
Richard’s Sooty knowledge proved spot on as Mrs Stewart’s father, Paul Mouncey, a retired biology teacher, used to know Harry Corbett – and he gave one of his TV puppets to the family.
Now, thanks to Richard’s intervention, the Sooty puppet is set to go under the hammer at a Derbyshire auctioneer on Thursday with an estimate of £800-£1,200.
Mrs Stewart said: “When I was small, we used to live in the same village as Harry Corbett and his family – Child Okeford in Dorset.
“Dad remembers taking me to see Harry and going into his workshop where he used to make the props and backdrops for the shows. He used a trailer to transport his props and my father ended up buying it from him.
“On one occasion when we visited him, dad mentioned that Harry took a liking to me and that’s when he gave me the original Sooty from the show. He also gave me a black and white picture of himself with the puppets and signed it, ‘Love from Sooty, Sweep, Soo and Harry Corbett’. I was three so it would have been in 1978. Because I was so young, I can’t remember much about it.
“We always knew our Sooty puppet was extra special. My parents said I had to be extra careful with him if I played with him. Harry told us he’d been on the Sooty TV shows.
“It was after I’d spoken to Richard Cadell that I decided I should part with him. If my Sooty was so special, it was a shame he’d just been sitting in a box for 40 years. It’s time for someone else to enjoy him. Perhaps he should be in a toy museum.”
In 2018, an original Harry Corbett Sooty puppet used on TV in the famous children’s show in the 1950s sold for £14,500, with buyer fees and VAT, from an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000.
“Sooty may have been invented on Blackpool pier but Derbyshire does seem to be one of his favourite holiday destinations,” said auctioneer Charles Hanson. “We hope we can find him a new Sooty fan to take good care of him – or perhaps it’s time for him to go home to Blackpool.”