Ready, teddy, go! The race is on to get your paws on a beary good prize – a family ticket to the cuddliest new exhibition in town.

Festival Place has teamed up with Hampshire Cultural Trust to celebrate the opening of Mr Simpson’s Teddy Bear Museum at Milestones, Hampshire’s museum of living history.

A teddy bear window has been created to highlight the 260 bears on display at Milestones and shopping centre customers will be given the chance to win an annual family pass to Milestones and a teddy bear from The Entertainer.

Mr Simpson’s Teddy Bear Museum is a walk through the history of the teddy bear, and is sure to charm visitors of all ages.

Mr William (Bill) Simpson began collecting teddy bears in 1917, when his father bought him his first bear, Rupert, while he was on leave from the First World War.

Mr Simpson went on to amass a vast and valuable collection of more than 260 bears, which he left to Hampshire County Council Museums Service, the predecessor of Hampshire Cultural Trust, which operates Milestones Museum today.

The bears have been conserved and are now on display together for the first time.

Much of the conservation of the teddy bear collection was completed by Hampshire Cultural Trust's team of conservators while working from home during the pandemic, and their efforts were recognised with a nomination for Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year in the 2021 Museum and Heritage Awards.

Nick Suffolk, Head of Cultural Experience at Hampshire Cultural Trust, said: “The museum is based on the extraordinary group of teddy bears put together over many years by Mr Simpson, and visitors will find out why he started his collection and explore the history of teddy bears, which goes back as far as 1905.

“The bears are displayed alongside specially commissioned animated films and there are lots of fun things for children to do, too, including learning about teddy bear history and how to identify any antique bears you may have at home!”

Festival Place Marketing Manager Emily Palmer said: “Who doesn't love a cuddly teddy bear? We’re delighted that we can help Hampshire Cultural Trust spread the word about this brilliant new part of Milestones Museum.

“To celebrate, one of our upper level units has been taken over with information about the new installation. Make sure you enter our online competition for the chance to win an annual family pass to Milestones and a teddy bear from The Entertainer. Good luck!”

The competition will run on Festival Place’s Facebook page from August 6-13.

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