Bill's bear collection just grew and grew

PUBLISHED: 12:59 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 23:33 15 June 2010

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A 93-year-old Lyme Regis man is a real Teddy Boy with a collection of more than 250 of the cuddly toys.

A 93-year-old Lyme Regis man is a real Teddy Boy - with a collection of more than 250 of the cuddly toys.Bill Simpson, who lives at Fairfield House residential home, has teddy bears aged over 100 years old and one valued at £3,000.He has had a book published called Me and My Teddy Bear and moved most of his teddies to living history museum Milestones, in Basingstoke. His collection has been put in a 'shop' named Simpsons.Bill's first and favourite teddy, 91-year-old Rupert, is still in good condition and became the inspiration for his later hobby.He said: "Rupert has been around for most of my life and he was never thrown away like most teddy bears, when children grow up."He was bought by my father when he came on leave from World War I in 1917, so he's become a sentimental addition to most of the family. He used to be sat around in the dining room."During his motor racing days, Bill felt he needed a mascot - but feared Rupert was too old.He said: "Rupert was too old to be bouncing around in a car. So I got Tino - Rupertino. Tino (pictured top right) now shows the signs of all his adventures - having been soaked in water and oil. He had great fun but he wanted a girlfriend, so I bought Rupertina."Bill had a few teddy bears and then people bought him more as gifts - believing he was collecting them. He said: "I started collecting teddies by accident and then started by myself."His wife Margaret became ill in 1994 and Bill's collection took off as it offered him respite. He feels the teddies can offer comfort in times of need and explained how he gave one to his mother after his father died.His wife had not been interested in teddies until they saw one which interested her while shopping in London in 1962. After some difficulty, he was able to buy her the teddy, which had only been for display, and named him 'Lord Meight'.He said: "He had become a peer and we didn't want to spell his name the common way - 'mate!'"When we gave him to my mother, I used to say 'watch her, mate.'"Bill, who worked as a banker and later served in the RAF during World War II, has little of his original collection with him because of space.But he does have a JOPI - Josef Pieterman teddy - from 1930, valued at £3,000 because it is in good condition and its musical box still works.He also has a motorised teddy, which waves with his paws, turns his head, and twitches his ears.His teddies are looked after like children, and in the past he used to re-dress them and send them for re-conditioning if they needed it. Each of them is labelled, with a brief history.In a bid to combat loneliness, most of his teddies have been partnered up - from Nicholas and Nicolina, to Thomas and Tomasina. And since his wife died, the teddies give him comfort and company.He said: "They're my family now as I don't have any family whatsoever.


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