Goodbye Christopher Robin: Shropshire Bear maker steals show at film premier

The MD of a Shropshire toymaker has spoken of her “privilege” at being asked to create a bear for a blockbuster movie.

Sarah Holmes 36, MD of Merrythought walked amongst A-list celebrities at the premiere of Goodbye Christopher Robin, after being asked to create the Edward bear which features in the film.

And she had a unique outfit for the event, donning a cape, made of the same Mohair that was used to create the bear.

The Coldstream Guard brass band march past one of Merrythought's giant teddy bears
Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Will Tilston, Kelly MacDonald and Alex Lawther attending the world premiere of Goodbye Christopher Robin at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London

Merrythought even made two gigantic bears which stood at the head of the red carpet during the premiere on Wednesday night.

The film stars A-listers Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie and Kelly Macdonald, and follows A. A. Milne and his creation Winnie-the-Pooh.

Fox, who made the film, wanted to recreate the original Edward bear, much-loved by Christopher Robin, that the character of Winnie is based on.

So they went direct to Merrythought, based in Ironbridge, which has been making bears since 1930.

Domhnall Gleeson

Sarah, who is the great-grandaughter of the company’s founder, said: “We were approached by Fox productions who were looking to recreate the original Edward bear and there are not many companies now in Britain who are making traditional Mohair bears.

“By chance, they didn’t know, that Merrythought now owns Farnell, which was the brand that the original Edward bear was. We have a long history of recreating the original Farnell bears from the 1900s, so it was a relatively easy task.”

Sarah said it was an honour to be invited to the premiere of the film, and said it was testament to the hard work of the staff who had worked to design the perfect Edward for the film.

And they didn’t just make one, Merrythought have had to make a number of bears that have been used during the promotion for the film.

And fans who see the bear can now buy their own Special Edition Edward which has gone on sale at the shop and on the Merrythought website.

Sarah added: “We are very, very privileged that Fox productions have invited us to the premiere and it shows their appreciation for our work in building what is one of the main characters of the film.

“We just hope people that see the film also fall in love with Edward.”

Since its inception, Merrythought has been making mohair soft toys at its base in Ironbridge.

Founder of the company, Gordon Holmes, was the owner of a spinning mill in Yorkshire when he realised the possibilities of using mohair – the fleece of the Angora goat – in the production of soft toys.

In 1931, the first catalogue revealed an eclectic range of 32 soft toys, including the original Merrythought teddy bear, whose patterns many of today’s designs are still based upon.

Its toys are such icons it was recently chosen by Royal Mail to be on its series of stamps showing loved British toys.

In 2012 it was also given the job of making the official range of commemorative bears for the Olympic Games and Paralympics in London.

Every year, thousands of bears are bought for gifts and by collectors while the factory also supplies high-end retailers such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

Merrythought teddies have also been thrust into the spotlight during cameo appearances in popular TV shows such as Downton Abbey and Peaky Blinders.

Others have been bought by a number of celebrity customers.

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