Poet laureate Sir John Betjeman's teddy bear features in new Oxfordshire exhibition

  • ITV News Meridian's Juliette Fletcher visited the new exhibition in Oxfordshire

The teddy bear of the poet laureate Sir John Betjeman features in a new exhibition in Oxfordshire.

The teddy bear sits alongside more than 20 others at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock.

The cuddly toys are part of a wider exhibition called Archie and the Poet which focuses on Sir John Betjeman and his teddy bear Archie.

Jemma Davey, Museum Service Manager, Oxfordshire Museum, said: "Archie is now 114 years old, so he's doing very well for an old bear.

The poet laureate John Betjeman's bear features in the exhibition. Credit: ITV News Meridian

"At some point during the 1930s, Archie was upgraded to be called Archie Ormsby Gore, so he was given a slightly more grandiose title.

"Betjeman would take Archie everywhere with him, he would go to fancy luncheons, dinner parties and parties with England's aristocratic elite."

Each bear was donated by residents across the county with each telling a unique story.

Graham and Sue Harper donated their late daughter Kayleigh's bear to the display.

Graham and Sue Harper donated their late daughter Kayleigh's bear. She was one of the youngest recipients of a heart transplant in 1989. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Born in 1989, Kayleigh was one of the youngest recipients of a heart transplant at seven months old.

Sue Harper said: "The teddy bear is the teddy that was given to Kayleigh by her daddy the day she was born, so Kayleigh's story is the Kayleigh bear.  

"The reason that she is in the museum is to raise awareness of organ donation and that's what we want the Kayleigh bear to symbolise."

All the bears at the exhibition have been close to someone's heart and much-loved for generations.

The teddy bears all have a unique story behind them. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Chombley was a companion to someone at university, Teddy Red Paws is more than 80 years old and has been passed down through the generations and Priscilla Hotlegs Johnson is widely travelled as she's been to Mount Kilimanjaro and Mexico City.Some of the teddy bears have been repaired but others are a little threadbare.Richard Stockwell, bear donor, said: "Hobart arrived in mid dec 1968. My dad had bought him at the pub from the boot of a Vauxhall Victor, belonging to one of his mates, a Christmas present for mother, a bit underwhelmed so he ended up in my bedroom and that's where he's been ever since."

The exhibition is open until the 25 February 2024.

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