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PHOTOS: 'Hero' helps reunite little girl with missing teddy

PHOTOS: 'Hero' helps reunite little girl with missing teddy

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:33am 8th September 2018. (Updated at 7:58am 8th September 2018)

A man from Saltash has been hailed a hero after he reunited a little girl with her treasured cuddly toy.

5-year-old Sofia was holidaying in Devon with her family when she lost the bunny rabbit that she has carried everywhere with her since the day she was born.

After a day out at The Eden Project, the family ended their day with dinner at Saltash services.

Almost halfway back to their accommodation they realised the bunny called 'Bear' wasn't anywhere to be seen.

Mum Maria told Pirate FM that staff at Saltash services' Burger King and Subway helped them search through the bins.

"This isn't the first time Bear has gone missing but we usually get her back.

"When we drove back to the services and she wasn't where we thought she was or hadn't been handed in to anyone, we began searching through the bins- even the wheelie bins out the back but very, very sadly and reluctantly we had to leave the services without Bear.

"We were panicking, my daughter was distressed because at that point we genuinely believed we weren't going to get her back. For the first time ever, we thought; 'that's it we are never going to see Bear again'.

"My daughter was obviously very distressed which was distressing for us all, Bear's been carried around with my daughter since she was born and to think she'd never see Bear again was very upsetting."

Maria Endall, Sofia's mum

Sofia, aged 5, lost her cuddly toy when she was on holiday.

Sofia struggles to sleep if Bear isn't with her in bed. Maria added:

"I know Bear is just a cuddly toy but she's just so much more than that to Sofia. It looks pretty much like a rag now after 5 and a half years of that much love but she really couldn't be without it." 

Sofia has had 'Bear' since birth and can't sleep without her cuddly

The family posted a plea on Facebook for the Saltash community to keep their eyes peeled for the teddy.

The posts received over 150 reponses with people offering to replace the toy and go and look for it themselves.

"I was just overwhelmed with everyone's kindness and generosity and especially thankful to Andy taking the time out of his day for no other reason other than to reunite Sofia with her most precious cuddly. 

"That was the moment of sheer joy for us all and disbelief really because we genuinely thought we weren't going to see her again, it was wonderful and such a relief for us all not to have to travel back to Norfolk without Bear.

"The overwhelming support we received from everyone in Saltash has absolutely renewed our faith in strangers ability's to want to help, we'll definitely be coming back...next time with bear!"

Andy Gillies has been described as the local hero for reuniting Sofia and Bear.

With a child of his own Andy told Pirate FM he could sympathise with the family since he had free time and lives nearby he set off to find it.

He spent an hour scouring around in search of Bear and at the moment he was about to give up he discovered it had been handed in after all.

Sofia and Bear were reunited thanks to Andy, from Saltash, just in time for the journey home. Phew!

"I was determined to find it. I'm quite stubborn about things like that, I was close to giving up in the end.

I had the free time and I quite like little challenges like that, it's good that it turned out for the good really, I was just happy to return her to Sofia. 

"Her face lit up, I saw her running toward me and she was grinning from ear to ear.

"She gave 'Bear' a big cuddle and I managed to get a cuddle and a picture to keep as well and her parents were pleased as well.

"I wasn't expecting the cards and the gifts but the card's now sitting up on my fireplace and I'll treasure it forever."

Andy Gillies, Bear rescuer 

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