Sooty puppet owned by Corbett family sold for £2,000

Sooty hand puppet with wand Image copyright Hansons
Image caption It is the second time the puppet has been sold to fund wheelchairs

A Sooty hand puppet once owned by the Corbett family who made the character famous has sold at auction for £2,000.

The puppet, sporting a magic wand in hand, was used by Matthew Corbett in his last stage show at London's Bloomsbury Theatre in December 1997.

It was sold by Rob Smith, 37, from Tewkesbury, to raise money for a new wheelchair for his wife, Suzie, 35.

The couple had bought Sooty in 2011 at an auction that raised money for a children's wheelchair charity.

Matthew Corbett retired when his 1997 tour ended and handed his puppet to a Sooty and Co company stage manager who passed it on to the charity Whizz-Kidz.

Mr Smith said: "We support Whizz-Kidz as my wife benefited from the charity many years ago, having been diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis as a child.

"Now, as it's Sooty's 70th birthday this year, we thought it would be a good time to sell him to help fund a new wheelchair for Suzie."

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption Suzy and Rob Smith with the 1997 Sooty puppet sold at auction to pay for Suzy's new wheelchair

An older puppet used by Matthew's father Harry, the creator of Sooty, failed to reach its £600 reserve price at the same Derbyshire Auctioneers sale.

Harry Corbett invented the yellow and black character on Blackpool pier in 1948.

It had been given to Eunice Weston (nee Whipps), now 69, by Mr Corbett in 1960.

Her parents had run a Clacton-on-Sea bed and breakfast where Corbett had stayed when he performed at the town's Savoy Theatre.

Mrs Weston said: "I didn't really speak to him very much. I was only 11, quite shy and used to scuttle off to school.

"So, I was delighted at the end of the week when he gave me the Sooty puppet. Sooty was huge back then."

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption The vintage puppets were billed as "the ultimate toy memorabilia"

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