SCORES of adoring fans queued to meet the world’s most famous bear when he paid a visit to a Wrexham shopping centre on Tuesday.
The appearance of Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear from darkest Peru, heralded a series of similar visits by popular children’s TV characters during August organised as part of the summer holiday activities at Eagles Meadow.
Since he first arrived at Paddington station and met Mr and Mrs Brown, Paddington has become one of the world’s best-loved bears.
He’s been a classic publishing character as well as an international TV star since 1975 and made his big screen debut in 2014.
Among the first to meet the jovial duffel coat wearing star at Eagles Meadow were cousins Poppy, five, and Dominic Butcher, 10, and Matthew Watson, 11, from Acton in Wrexham.
Poppy and Dominic’s mum, Sue Butcher, who brought them all along said: “They were all thrilled to meet him, and Poppy in particular couldn’t wait for today because she’s a big fan and has all the Paddington things like books and films and even a suitcase with his name on it.”
Also making the date with Paddington a family affair were six-year-old Sasha Koswaththage, her sister Tiana, two, and their cousins Morgan Lewis, four, and Tyler Lewis, 12, all from Wrexham.
Sasha said: “I was really looking forward to seeing Paddington and giving him a big hug because I really love him.”
It was a similar story with three-year-old Scarlett Rudd and her brother Jayden, five, from Rhostyllen in Wrexham who had been brought along to see the famous visitor by their mum Laura.
As she watched the two children have their big photo opportunity with Paddington, Laura said: “Actually, I’m a big fan of his too. When I was their age I had all the Paddington teddies – just like they have at home now.”
On a day out at Eagles Meadow from his home in Chester was four-year-old Josh Roberts who was queueing to see his furry hero with his gran and taid, Sandra and Ffrancon Roberts from Prestatyn.
After meeting Paddington, a delighted Josh said: “I just love him and know everything about him like that he likes to eat marmalade.”
Dracy Griffiths, six, and her four-year-old sister Mollie came all the way from Oswestry with their mum Emma Kilvert to meet Paddington.
Emma said: “They both love Paddington but he’s an absolute obsession with Mollie.
“She has everything connected with him such as his DVDs and books and I even made her a special costume so she could dress up just like Paddington for World Book Day at her school.”
An overwhelmed Mollie said meeting her hero and giving him a cuddle had been “really great.”
And the fans who probably came furthest to see Paddington were nine-year-old Emily Gunner and her sister Sophie Gunner, seven.
Their gran, Eileen West, said: “We’re all from Burgess Hill in West Sussex and came all the way up here on holiday.
“The girls love everything about Paddington and have seen all his films and they thought it was fantastic to actually meet him today.”
Next up will be another children’s favourite, Shaun the Sheep, who will be at Eagles Meadow on Tuesday, August 11.
After featuring in Wallace & Gromit’s 1995 short film, A Close Shave, Shaun was given his own TV show and has now followed in Paddington’s footsteps and finally made it to the big screen in a new feature film, which unfolds without a single word being said.
TV and film favourite SpongeBob SquarePants will be heading to the shopping centre on Tuesday, August 18.
The series chronicles the adventures of SpongeBob SquarePants and his friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom.
SpongeBob SquarePants is one of Nickelodeon’s highest rated shows and has won a host of awards including two Emmy Awards and two BAFTA Children’s Awards.
Last but not least is The Gruffalo who’ll be arriving in Wrexham on Tuesday, August 25.
The Gruffalo is one of the world’s best-loved picture book characters. Since it was first published in 1999, the award-winning story of mouse’s encounter with The Gruffalo in the deep dark wood has continued to delight children and adults the world over.
As a loving grandfather of two, Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley is familiar with all the characters and was delighted to welcome Paddington Bear to Wrexham.
He said: “We thought it would be nice if we introduced a bit of fun for our shoppers and their families at Eagles Meadow during the summer holidays.
“I know from personal experience how popular these enchanting characters are and I’m sure they’re all going to be a bit hit with the little ones just like Paddington was today.”
The characters will be making personal appearances at intervals between 11am and 3.30pm.