IN A story worthy of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, a gang of young Peacehaven detectives found Bertie the Bear more than a month after he went missing when Circus Wonderland was in town.
Circus director Paul Carpenter, who plays Popol the Clown, said ‘just when he had given up hope’ of recovering the 6ft mascot costume, he received an email last week from mum Debbie Exley.
She told him her son, Tom, 10, was one of a group of children who found the bear down a hole at a park a couple of streets away from the Dell, where the circus had been set up.
Debbie, of Cairo Avenue, said Tom and his six friends, aged about seven to 10, were playing in Howard Park when they spotted something down a hole.
“They came rushing back telling us they thought it might be a dead body,” she laughed.
“It was getting dark so we said they would have to go back the next day after school with their torches.
“They came back with the costume - head, feet, furry body suit and jacket - trailing along behind them, asking me to wash it.
“I researched the costume and came up with your story from the Sussex Express. We were away on holiday when the theft was reported so I completely missed it. They were over the moon about finding it and went back with their notebooks and ‘evidence bags’ like little detectives looking for evidence of the crime to help the police with their investigation.”
Poor Bertie was missing his ears but was otherwise unharmed and Debbie washed his jacket. Circus Wonderland collected the costume on Saturday.
Paul, who is with the circus in Kent, said: “I am going to send it back to the company who made it to operate on Bertie and give him some new ears. Hopefully he will be back in the show soon.
“I was absolutely amazed and delighted when I heard that Bertie had been found. I had given up all hope of seeing him again. I am so grateful to the intrepid gang of explorers who found him, and look forward to welcoming them all to the circus as our VIP guests when we return to Peacehaven next summer.”
The costume disappeared on August 1 when Paul told the Sussex Express: “We are desperate to get Bertie back. We are absolutely devastated because he played such a big part in our show.”
They realised the costume was missing from the changing room trailer just before the show started.
“Bertie is the mascot or figurehead of our show, he appears throughout the performance and we use him for photographs with the children in the interval,” said Paul.
“The costume was made especially for the show and is worth £1,400. It actually feels like a person has gone missing because he was such an important part of our show and we are so used to him being there.”