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The mystery of how a 100-year-old dog-eared teddy bear found abandoned in Bristol Airport's departure lounge has finally been solved.
Staff at Bristol Airport found the antique bear, which has one eye and a floppy ear, in a bag with a frayed black and white photo, dated March 1918, of him being cuddled by two little children.
Unlike Paddington Bear, the toy had no name tag but a message in faded ink on the back of the picture read: "With dearest love and kisses to our darling Daddie from your loving little daughters Dora and Glyn."
A public appeal was issued to try and trace the owner earlier this year but the team at Bristol Airport were unable to find any living relatives until a campaign by The Mature Times, a newspaper for the over 50s.
Reader Robert Glyn Baker spotted the story and recognised the bear as a family heirloom he lost while travelling through the airport on his way to Cyprus. He said: "I was stunned when I got a cutting of the Mature Times in the post and saw my bear on the front page.
"I thought it was lost forever, I was convinced it had been destroyed."
The bear was found in 2012 and staff spent 14 months trawling flight records to see if they could find any two passengers with the same names as those mentioned on the back of the picture. When they could not they appealed for help from the public and a number of experts stepped forward to help with the search. They were able to trace the date of the picture after they discovered a second message on the picture, which said: "taken on Baby's birthday March 4th 1918, one year and five-months-old."
But, despite tracing who the children were they were unable to find them.
Robert spotted his bear - nicknamed 'Bristol' by staff - after his former wife sent him a cutting of the Mature Times front page from January. The gobsmacked dad-of-one, who is still in Cyprus, was so shocked when he realised his bear was still out there he immediately rang the paper to try and get him back.
"I'm an only child and my auntie Dora didn't have any children either so I am the only person that could have got the bear," Robert said.
"My mum gave him a different nose, he has pads on his arms too. I think I gave him a rough time when I was a kid!
"It's the sentimental value really, my hands were so full with what I was carrying I thought I had left it in the toilet. I had so much with me, but like a fool I left it in the airport.
"I would love to have it back."
Robert Baker is the son of Glyn Baker, born in 1916, who is pictured with his sister in a photograph found with the bear.
Glyn married Elsie Evelyn Norman, who was born in 1917, and who died only two months ago. Glyn died a number of years ago. His older sister Dora, lived in Plymouth for much of her life after marrying a naval officer, and was once a secretary to MP Michael Foot. She did not have any children and ended her days in a Welsh nursing home aged 80.
The card, which was found with the teddy, was written by Dora and Glyn to their father, and Robert’s grandfather, Nicholas Glyn Baker. He was a baker by trade, but was stationed in Baghdad during the First World War, where he later died from Malaria in 1917. It is thought the bear was originally bought by Glyn’s uncle in Glenover, Wales, where he grew up. Robert, a retired policeman with Gwent Police, is the only child of Glyn and Elsie, and was the only person the bear could go to.
Jacqui Mills, Public Relations Manager, Bristol Airport said:
“We are delighted that the owner of ‘Bristol Bear’ has been found. The Bristol Airport team were determined not to give up on the search, and we always hoped we could reunite him with his family.
“The bear has obviously been well loved over nearly 100 years and it was clear from the old photograph in which he featured that he was part of a family’s history, but we did not have much information to go on. That is why the assistance we have received from media, ancestry forums and teddy bear specialists has been so important in filling in the gaps.
“Finding out that the father in the photograph served in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) during the First World War and received the picture of his family shortly before his sad death, really brings these lost property items to life. The little bear has been on an amazing journey and we are now making plans for his final flight home.”
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