Huw Smith and His 600 Teddy Bears
Retired couple upsize their home to a four-bedroom detached property… to make room for their 600-strong collection of Teddy Bears!
Most people upsize their house to accommodate a growing family.
But retired couple Huw and Jan Smith have a rather more fuzzy reason for moving into a bigger home – because behind the doors of their new residence live hundreds and hundreds of teddy bears.
The pair have more than 600 of the cuddly toys crammed into their four-bedroom detached property.
The couple, who give each bear its own name, recently moved house to accommodate their large collection, which they have amassed over the past 23 years and estimate to be worth £4,500.
Mr Smith, a former product manager, said some people could not understand why they would spend their money on cuddly toys.
‘Our friends think we have more money than sense, but we love our bears so much,’ he said.
‘We’ve had to move just to fit them all in. In our previous place it was getting to be a tight squeeze but it’s less cluttered now.
They name and photograph each one and record when and where it was purchased in a detailed computerized log book.
In October they decided to move from their three-bedroom terraced home in St Albans, Hertforshire, to a larger house in Lancaster to accommodate their massive brood of soft toys.
They have so many that every room of their new property is filled with different types of bears.
‘While we had the dog we couldn’t really start collecting the bears as he would have had them,’ said 60-year-old Mr Smith.
‘But after he died we bought a teddy, sort of as a replacement pet, and from there we just carried on. It wasn’t really a conscious thing, but now, 20 years later we have hundreds.
‘We get the bears from all over the place. Gifts from friends and family, places we visit, holidays abroad, markets, auction houses and the high street.
‘They are a real mixed bag and are all very unique. We have some that cost a couple of pounds from charity shops to others worth a few hundred.
‘The most expensive is Steve, he was bought for my wife as a present when she worked for the council. We think he is worth about £260.
‘We don’t buy designer ones like Steiff’s as they are very expensive but we have got some lovely bears from John Lewis and Harrods.’
Mr Smith said he and his wife love the bears so much they are ‘like family’.
‘One of the first ones we ever got was a John Lewis bear called Mischief,’ he said.
‘The largest is a three feet tall bear called Conrad. We got him in Brighton and had to bring him back on the train. He was so big he needed his own seat.
‘They have pride of place in the lounge and the kitchen, while the dining room and bedrooms are full of them too. People who come to visit think we’re mad.
‘When we have guests we don’t move them or put them away. Our friends have to sit around them, but they love it. They’re always posing for pictures with them.’
Mrs Smith, 63, who until recently worked as an administrator for her local museum service, added: ‘We never had any children of our own but I wouldn’t say they were our fur-kids.
‘They are just incredibly well-loved bears. I think they all have such different beautiful faces.’