Please look after this bear… and the other 30! Britain’s biggest Paddington fan crowds house with hundreds of items of Paddington Bear memorabilia as excitement for film hits peak
A mum-of-six with a Paddington Bear collection worth £10,000 has gone into overdrive with the release of the recent film.
Emma Bending’s house is filled to the brim with adorable teddies as well as books and prints to that fuel her love for the small Peruvian bear character.
And she was so desperate to see the film that she booked herself into the first showing at her local cinema when she couldn’t get tickets for the premiere on ebay.
Emma, 44, a school attendance officer, said: “Paddington is so naughty and mischievous but also so polite and British at the same time.
“He’s the perfect character and I’d like to think I’m one of his biggest fans!”
Emma’s obsession with the bear started just aged four after her grandparents gave her one of the first books.
She collected teddies, books and even had a Paddington-themed bedroom.
Unlike most children whose early toys are given away or lost, it wasn’t until her early teens that Emma’s Paddington was carefully stowed away in her parents’ loft.
But when she was watching a repeat of the Paddington TV series with her children in 2002 she remembered her childhood toys and now she and her six kids are some of Paddington’s biggest fans.
She’s spent the last 12 years building up a bumper collection and their home in Bugbrooke, Northampton plays host to more than 30 stuffed bears.
Book shelves stocked with five first editions worth up to £3,000 cover her walls and her favourite piece is a simple sketch of the bear by original illustrator Peggy Fortnum.
All together she’s got more than 400 items of memorabilia including a lifesize stand-up bear that was originally part of a Harrods shop display and cost £400.
She spends much of her spare time repairing old Paddington bear toys that have seen the wear of time and has darned fur, sewed up holes in coats and glued boots to bring bears back to life.
Author Michael Bond has signed books and luggage labels for her and Emma is hoping friends and family will club together for Christmas to buy her one of the Paddington scultpures currently dotted all over London.
Friends and colleagues have also caught the bug and Emma regularly sources themed toys and books for friends as gifts.
She has fans from all over the world contact her for information and advice on building their own collections.
Fireman husband Michael, 45, thinks the whole thing is fantastic but did force Emma to sell some of her giant shop display when they began to take over their house.
Emma said: “The new film is fantastic – it’s got something for everyone which is what makes Paddington so great.
“I was just four when I first fell in love with Paddington with his little blue hat coat, red coat and suitcase.
“My grandparents gave me a book called ‘Great Big Paddington Bear’ for my fourth birthday.
“I loved reading about the mayhem Paddington caused for the Brown family when he arrived in the UK from Peru.
“When I was six I begged my mum and Dad for a real Paddington Bear and on Christmas day he was there under the tree.
“Over the following years my bedroom turned into a Paddington shrine.
“My Dad put up Paddington wallpaper, curtains, and a lampshade – I even had Paddington bedspreads!
“It was only when I fell in love with George Michael that my love for Paddington waned a bit and I put away the toys.
“Once Michael and I had six little ones our house was full to the brim with toys.
“One day a repeat of the Paddington TV programme and I said ‘I’ve got one of those! And I had to dig through the boxes in the loft until I had found my original bear.
“As soon as I showed him to the kids they all wanted one and that’s how my passion for Paddington came back to life.
“Now I don’t know how I ever put him in the loft and he’s as big a part of my life as he ever was!”