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Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought in golliwogs row

Telford | News | Published:

Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought today defended selling golliwogs on its website and said: "They are an innocent, traditional British toy". Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought today defended selling golliwogs on its website and said: "They are an innocent, traditional British toy". [caption id="attachment_180878" align="alignright" width="250" caption="The golliwogs, Liquorice Lenny and Liquorice Lucy, are at the centre of a row"][/caption] The Ironbridge company found itself caught up in a row after a national newspaper claimed the golliwogs were out of keeping with its role as manufacturer of the official London 2012 Olympic teddy bear. The newspaper quoted former British sprinter Darren Campbell as saying the golliwogs were not in the Olympic spirit. But today Merrythought boss Sarah Holmes said the golliwogs were nothing to do with the Olympics and the range was discontinued. The golliwogs, named Liquorice Lenny and Liquorice Lucy, are 18ins high and wearing Liquorice Allsorts themed clothing. They were on the company's website for sale at about £100 but have now been removed. However, other specialist toy sites are selling the dolls for £123. [24link]

Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought today defended selling golliwogs on its website and said: "They are an innocent, traditional British toy".

The Ironbridge company found itself caught up in a row after a national newspaper claimed the golliwogs were out of keeping with its role as manufacturer of the official London 2012 Olympic teddy bear.

The newspaper quoted former British sprinter Darren Campbell as saying the golliwogs were not in the Olympic spirit.

But today Merrythought boss Sarah Holmes said the golliwogs were nothing to do with the Olympics and the range was discontinued.

The golliwogs, named Liquorice Lenny and Liquorice Lucy, are 18ins high and wearing Liquorice Allsorts themed clothing.

They were on the company's website for sale at about £100 but have now been removed. However, other specialist toy sites are selling the dolls for £123.

One says it is "a stunning golly wearing a pair of chocolate coloured velveteen trousers and Allsorts cotton coat tails and bow tie.

But Darren Campbell, who won gold for Britain in the 4x100m at the 2004 Games in Athens, said the dolls were not in the Olympic spirit.

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"Golliwogs are completely incompatible with the Olympic values of fairness and equality," he said.

Miss Holmes said: "Merrythought produced gollies as an innocent, traditional British toy up until Oliver Holmes's era as managing director. Our product range has been reviewed since my sister and I took over the business earlier this year.

"As gollies, and various other traditional designs, only accounted for a small proportion of sales, the decision was made to discontinue them and our latest catalogue does not feature any golly designs. They are still available through other well known toy and teddy bear manufacturers.

"The team here at Merrythought is very saddened by the behaviour of Sunday People. We are Britain's last soft toy factory and are cherished by the British public for continuing to produce quality teddy bears in this country and providing precious employment in an age where most toys are manufacturered in the Far East and UK unemployment is continuing to rise.

"There have been over 800 comments on Yahoo following the article and they give unanimous support to Merrythought."

By Jason Lavan

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