Residents of Headley Down looking for bronze bear Monty

Sunday 12th June 2022 11:00 am
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Monty the Erie Wood bear
Monty the Erie Wood bear (Headley Down Nature Reserve )

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People in Headley Down are on the hunt for Monty the bronze bear.

The life-sized statue was stolen from his plinth in the nature reserve on Saturday night, leaving only his pawprints behind.

Leading the campaign to find him is Angela Jackson, who chairs the Headley Down Nature Reserve Trust.

She said: “Monty was the much-loved focal point on the Headley Down Nature Reserve. We don’t know if the kidnappers will try to sell him as a piece of sculpture or just for scrap.

“The work of our small charity to create a nature reserve on a former landfill site is greatly appreciated by the local community, especially those who live in the adjacent social housing on the Heatherlands estate.

“Everyone is very sad to lose Monty, as he was chosen by a popular vote to highlight the links we have with the Canadian military detention camp that was stationed on this site during the Second World War. The children of the local Beavers group are being especially active in the hunt for Monty.”

Whitehill deputy mayor Cllr Roger Russell offered his help to the trust. He said: “I’m a local metal sculpture artist – maybe something could be made in metal and secured so it could not be stolen.

“If you find Monty, I could help you fix him to the ground. I made a roe deer for The Shed in the new town centre in Whitehill & Bordon and I mounted him on a big heavy slab of oak.”

Monty was the central feature of the Heart of Erie Wood project to recover the war history of the Heatherlands estate and the nature reserve, and remind people of the link between the Fort Garry Horse Regiment, stationed in Headley from 1942-43, and its mascot who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.

The story began in Canada in 1914 when an orphaned female bear cub was rescued by Army vet Harry Colebourn and named after Winnipeg, his home town. During the First World War they went to England with the Fort Garry Horse Regiment, where Winnie was regimental mascot until the men were posted to France.

Winnie was left with London Zoo where she became a favourite with children, particularly Christopher Robin, who was allowed in the cage to feed her condensed milk. He named his teddy bear after Winnie, who was then immortalised by Christopher’s father A A Milne as Winnie-the-Pooh.

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