England

Real Winnie the Pooh owner's footsteps retraced by great-granddaughter

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Media captionCpt Harry Colebourn brought the bear across the Atlantic in 1914 to Salisbury in Wiltshire where he was stationed

The great-granddaughter of a Canadian soldier whose bear cub inspired the story of Winnie the Pooh has visited the UK to retrace his footsteps.

Cpt Harry Colebourn brought the bear across the Atlantic in 1914 as he was stationed near Salisbury, Wiltshire.

When he and his regiment went to war in France he donated the animal, called Winnie, to London Zoo.

He originally named the bear Winnipeg after his home town but wanted something shorter, so chose Winnie.

His great-granddaughter Lindsay Mattick said she wanted to follow Cpt Colebourn's journey to mark the centenary of his posting.

She travelled to Wiltshire with Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra who are performing a series of concerts to commemorate the Great War.

Image copyright London Zoo
Image caption Winnie quickly became very popular with Christopher Robin Milne

Winnie the Pooh - based on the bedtime stories by Alan Alexander (AA) Milne - first appeared in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve 1925 in a story called The Wrong Sort of Bees.

The honey-loving bear's many adventures - along with his friends Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore - have since been translated into more than 40 languages.

The young boy in the stories, Christopher Robin, was named after AA Milne's own son.

The real Christopher Robin had a favourite teddy bear, which he called Winnie the Pooh in honour of Winnie, the Canadian bear he had seen in London Zoo.

He had other stuffed animals, including a kangaroo, a piglet and a donkey, which became the basis for other characters in the stories, which were written for Milne's family.

"There's a magic to it where one of the world's most famous and beloved fictional stories had a real and true story behind it," Ms Mattick said.

"And it was actually my great-grandfather's story."

Image copyright EH Shephard

During her visit to the United Kingdom she was introduced to Derek de Selincourt, the cousin of the late Christopher Robin Milne.

There she showed Mr de Selincourt extracts from Mr Colebourn's wartime diary including one that showed when he bought Winnie.

"I can't imagine that in his wildest dreams that his great-granddaughter would be sitting here with AA Milne's nephew having a conversation about how a real bear and a fictional bear affected the narratives of our lives," Ms Mattick added.

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