Post: Wartime teddy bear Blitzy will be sold at auction after being found in an attic (Hansons/PA)
The bear, to be sold at auction, was purchased for a five-year-old girl around the time of the heavy bombing of Manchester in 1940
19 July 2021 | Amos Wynn | Belfast Times
A wartime teddy bear that survived the Manchester Blitz will be sold at auction after being found in an attic.
The bear, named Blitzy, was originally bought for five-year-old Mary Gaskell around the time of the outbreak of the Second World War.
Mary kept the beloved bear, a source of comfort during the heavy bombing of Manchester which began in the late autumn of 1940, her entire life.
It is now due to go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers with a guide price of £600 to £800, although experts believe it could sell for more due to the bear’s backstory.
The teddy was found in a plastic bag by Mary’s son, Jon McCue, 54, who said he had “completely forgotten” about the bear until he cleared out his loft ahead of a house move.ADVERTISING
Mary Gaskell’s sister-in-law, Jackie Carey, and her son, Jon McCue (Hansons/PA)
Mr McCue said: “After decades spent in cupboards and attics, I thought it was about time he came back out into the world.
“It would be lovely to see him cuddled again by a new owner or taking pride of place in a museum alongside my mother’s story. Blitzy is a reminder of what children had to endure during the Second World War in Manchester.”
Blitzy was originally found in a cupboard by Mary’s sister-in-law, Jackie Carey, 84, in 2009, before finding his way into Mr McCue’s attic.
She was clearing out Mary and her husband Ian’s house in Newquay, Cornwall, following his death. Mary had died 18 months earlier at the age of 74.
A note written by Mary Gaskell’s sister-in-law, Jackie Carey, and left with Mary’s teddy bear, Blitzy (Hansons/PA)
Mrs Carey wrote a note, which she attached to Blitzy, which read “My mother is Mary Gaskell” and “We cuddled through the Blitz”.
The retired teacher, from Flixton, Manchester, said: “Blitzy very nearly ended up in a skip or at the charity shop.
“There was so much stuff to clear, we had to have a skip. But when I found him, knowing how special he was to Mary, I wrote the notes explaining who he was.
“I also added the green bow to his neck. Mary was a beautiful young woman with a mass of auburn hair and perfect figure. She used to wear a green dress that was just that colour. She looked so lovely in it I chose the ribbon as a personal reminder of her.”
Mr McCue said: “During the Newquay house clearance, it was so difficult getting everything sorted out, Blitzy’s discovery went over my head.
“But luckily, he survived again – and didn’t end up in the skip. I’d completely forgotten about him until I cleared my loft a few weeks ago.”
Mary Gaskell as a young woman. Her teddy bear, Blitzy, will be sold at auction after being found in an attic (Hansons/PA)
Mrs Carey said: “Mary and I lived near the Manchester Ship Canal, which was a strategic infrastructure during the war so a prime target.”
She added: “Mary was four years older than me and witnessed it all. She was from an ordinary working-class family, one of two children, and lived in a 1930s semi, a new build at the time.
“Her mother bought her the teddy, perhaps just before the war because times got really tough in the 1940s.
“Everything was rationed. People used to unpick jerseys to knit something else.”
Steve Fulford, toy valuer at Hansons, said: “He’s (Blitzy) got a face packed with character, a couple of war wounds, and a tummy squeak that has given up the ghost, but he’s super special. Back in the 1930s, he would have cost the equivalent of a week’s wages.
“Mary was very lucky to own a bear of that quality and size at that time, no wonder she treasured him all her life. Teddies have that effect on people, I still have mine.”
Blitzy is due to be sold at auction on Friday.