Thomas, known as Harry, had been in hospital in Iraq with emphysema for nearly a year and during that time he carefully stitched an elephant out of scraps of leather for his son
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Peter Newband still remembers the post-war Christmas of 1946 when the father he had only just met gave him a beautiful handmade elephant toy.
He was just four when his father, Thomas Henry Newband, came back after serving in Iraq during the Second World War.
Thomas, known as Harry, had been in hospital in Iraq with emphysema for nearly a year and during that time he carefully stitched an elephant out of scraps of leather for his son.
Peter, now 80, from Chorley, Lancs, says: “My mother hadn’t seen him since 1941. I was four years old and I didn’t know who he was. It was that Christmas that he gave me the elephant.
“It wasn’t just a toy, it was something my dad had made especially for me and it was beautiful.”
The colourful leather elephant, whom Peter named Pookie, had blue eyes and two stones stitched into the back legs that Harry had taken from a Bethlehem church for luck during the war.
But over time the green and red leather faded and the eyes and stones were lost.
But for Peter, who lives with wife Valerie, it never lost its connection to his father who died aged 45 from emphysema, when Peter was 15.
In emotional scenes on The Repair Shop tonight Peter brings in the jaded toy.
Daughter Jackie Newband says: “We’ve only ever seen it as this brown, eyeless little sad thing sitting in the corner.”
It’s up to leather restoration specialist Suzie Fletcher to bring Pookie back to life and the results are overwhelming for Peter.
He says: “It made my heart dance seeing it then and seeing it now I get the same feeling.”
- The Repair Shop, Wednesday, BBC1 8pm.