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