Bristol Airport bear to go under the hammer
Created: 19th Nov 2015
100 year old teddy left in departures to get new home and help children’s charity.
The story of the 100-year-old teddy bear found abandoned in Bristol Airport's departure lounge is set for a new chapter next month. The bear will go under the hammer on 3 December at Special Auction Services of Newbury in Berkshire having been put up for sale by its owner.
The story started in February 2012 when 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.
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 daughter and sonnie Dora and Glyn."
Christening the new arrival ‘Bristol Bear’, the Bristol Airport team sent out an appeal for help and were overwhelmed by the response both from the general public and a variety of ancestry forums. A number of expert family historians from Rootschat.com even stepped in to help with the search.
They were able to trace more information from the picture after they researched a second message on the photograph, 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 track down any living relatives. With so little information to go on, the assistance received from media, ancestry forums and teddy bear specialists played a vital role in filling in the gaps. Cyprus resident, Robert Glyn Baker, read about the story and recognised the bear as a family heirloom he lost while travelling through Bristol Airport. Robert is the only son of Glyn Baker, born in 1916, who is pictured with his sister in a photograph found with the bear. The card, which was found with the teddy, was written by Dora and Glyn to their father - Robert’s grandfather - Nicholas Glyn Baker.
Nicholas was a baker by trade, but was stationed in Baghdad during the First World War, where he died from malaria in 1918 shortly after receiving the photograph. It is thought the bear was originally bought by Glyn’s uncle in Glenover in Pembrokeshire, where he grew up, and was a present to Kenneth, the brother of Dora and Glyn who died aged three years old. Robert, a retired policeman, is the only child of Glyn and Elsie.
Jacqui Mills, Public Relations and Community Manager, Bristol Airport said:
“We were delighted when Robert came forward to claim ‘Bristol Bear’ as we always wanted to reunite him with his family. It was an accumulation of nearly two years work with very little information to go on.
“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 which will continue in December.
“As Robert does not have any younger members of the family to pass ‘Bristol Bear’ on to, he has made a decision to sell the bear at auction and help find him a new home.”
A donation from the purchase of ‘Bristol Bear’ will be made to Bristol Airport’s charity of the year, Children’s Hospice South West.
During the two year search for the family, many offers of help were received including an artist from West Sussex wanting to tell the bear’s story in a painting. A limited edition print of ‘Bristol Bear’, with a suitcase, a lost property tag, World War One coins and a recreation of the photograph has been painted by artist Sandra Busby. One of the limited edition prints will be donated to Children’s Hospice South West, where the children and families at the hospice will be able enjoy ‘Bristol Bear’ fascinating story.