The hold a beloved bear can have on a young mind is quite remarkable / Sylvie Huet/Dewi Lewis Publishing

The heart-wrenching loss of a much-loved teddy is one of the trials of childhood. Gillian Orr discovers that surprise reunions and happy endings can happen

It's a story that anyone who has ever formed an attachment to a stuffed toy will be able to relate to. While in the car travelling down the M6 near Cannock, Staffordshire, recently, four-year-old Daisy Jewkes's favourite bear, Old Teddy, flew out the car window. Distraught, she cried all the way home.

But there is a happy ending. After Daisy's mother emailed the Highways Agency, the little girl was reunited with her toy bear last week.

David Smith, a manager for construction company Carillion, said: "I got the email and asked the guys to look out for the teddy and within days we found him in the central reservation. The look on the girl's face was absolutely fantastic when she got him back."

The hold a beloved bear can have on a young mind is quite remarkable. Just think of The Simpsons' mean-spirited Mr Burns, whose otherwise concealed humanity is revealed in the episode "Rosebud" in which he reminisces about the stuffed teddy Bobo that he gave away as a child. He is overjoyed when he is eventually reunited with the raggedy toy through Homer's daughter Maggie.

That's the thing about teddy bears; they can warm even the coldest of hearts. And first ones are rarely forgotten.

This unique, unrequited adoration is also the subject of a new book, A Story of Bears (Dewi Lewis Publishing, £16.99) , by Sylvie Huet.The Frenchwoman decided to look into the relationship between people and their teddies after her own remarkable story of a bear lost and found. At the age of two, Huet was given a teddy who she named Copain. As is the norm, when teenage years came around the toy was left to one side for rather edgier pursuits. When she was 20, Huet was told by her mother that she had thrown away the bear four years earlier.

"I kept it for a long time but I'd got to the age when you don't take care of your toys anymore," says Huet. "I have always been sad about what my mother did. But I believed that one day I would find him again."

At the age of 49, Huet came across a bear she recognised in a Paris flea market. She walked over, stared at it, then picked it up and squeezed it to her chest; it was Copain.

"I saw him and I did not move," she recalls. "Then I took him in my arms just as I did as a child. It was very, very moving for me."

Huet parted with the 150 euros the seller was asking and took him home. She wondered if she had an imposter in her midst, but comparing him to old photographs, she knew for sure he was hers. "After rediscovering my bear I spoke to friends about it. Everyone was so joyous about it. And then they began to tell me their own stories of their bears and through that spoke about their childhoods."

The other bears that feature in her book are between 44 and 98 years old, all worn, stitched and scarred. Most belong to regular folk but some are the companions of celebrities, such as Jean Paul Gaultier's Nana, on whom the designer used to draw lipstick.

Fortunately, the internet is now instrumental in returning lost bears to their owners. The Facebook page Teddy Bears Lost and Found displays pictures of missing pals. First Great Western launched its Teddy Rescue service, in which mugshots of animal friends that turn up as lost property are uploaded to the internet.

Last year, Lauren Bishop Vranch uploaded to Twitter a picture of a bear left on a train and appealed for help to find the owner. After thousands of retweets, the toy was returned.

Whether it's after a few days or many years, reuniting someone with their special companion will always elicit an overwhelming response. And more often than not, a few tears as well.

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