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Bear with me... there is a very important lesson here

By Gillian Orr

It's a story that anyone who has ever formed an attachment to a stuffed toy will be able to relate to. While in the car travelling down the motorway in England recently, four-year-old Daisy Jewkes's favourite bear, Old Teddy, flew out the car window. Distraught, she cried all the way home.

But there is a happy ending. After Daisy's mother emailed the Highways Agency, the little girl was reunited with her toy bear last week.

David Smith, a manager for construction company Carillion, said: "I got the email and asked the guys to look out for the teddy and within days we found him in the central reservation. The look on the girl's face was absolutely fantastic when she got him back."

The hold a beloved bear can have on a young mind is quite remarkable. And first ones are rarely forgotten.

This unique, unrequited adoration is the subject of a new book, A Story of Bears (Dewi Lewis Publishing, £16.99), by Sylvie Huet.The Frenchwoman decided to look into the relationship between people and their teddies after her own remarkable story of a bear lost and found. At the age of two, Huet was given a teddy who she named Copain. When she was 20, Huet was told by her mother that she had thrown away the bear four years earlier.

At the age of 49, Huet came across a bear she recognised in a Paris flea market. She walked over, stared at it, then picked it up and squeezed it to her chest; it was Copain.

Huet parted with the €150 the seller was asking and took him home. She wondered if she had an imposter in her midst, but comparing him to old photographs, she knew for sure he was hers. "After rediscovering my bear I spoke to friends about it. Everyone was so joyous about it. And then they began to tell me their own stories of their bears and through that spoke about their childhoods."

The other bears that feature in her book are between 44 and 98 years old, all worn, stitched and scarred. Most belong to regular folk but some are the companions of celebrities, such as Jean Paul Gaultier's Nana.

Fortunately, the internet is now instrumental in returning lost bears to their owners. The Facebook page Teddy Bears Lost and Found displays pictures of missing pals. Whether it's after a few days or many years, reuniting someone with their special companion will always elicit an overwhelming response. And more often than not, a few tears as well.

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