Vintage Sooty and Sweep puppets auctioned by Leeds siblings expected to fetch thousands

A set of Sooty, Sweep and Soo puppets given to two children from Leeds by the TV show's creator are expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

By Abbey Maclure
Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 8:14 am

The Sooty shows creator Harry Corbett gifted the original puppets to Vicky Golding, aged 49, and her brother Max Jowett, 51, over 40 years ago after their mum was diagnosed with cancer.

Corbett even put on personal Sooty shows to help entertain the youngsters at their house when they were aged around four and six in 1974.

His extraordinary act of generosity came after their mum Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1970s and later lost her battle with the disease.

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The vintage Sooty, Sweep and Soo puppets are expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction

-> Terminally ill Leeds dad to feature on special charity match ball for Prostate Cancer UKThe puppets, which date back to the 60s and were also used in the TV programme, are expected to fetch between £5,000 to £7,000 when they go under the hammer next month.

Vicky and Max, a retired police officer, now plan to donate the funds raised by the proceeds of the Hanson Auctioneers sale to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The siblings, who live just north of Leeds, believe Corbett reached out to help their family due to their mother's illness and the fact that he knew their dad so well.

Mum-of-two Vicky, a retail business owner, said: "My father, Derek Jowett, was Harry Corbett's independent financial advisor for many years and they became good friends.

The puppets date back to the 60s and were also used in the TV programme

"I think they got to know each other in the 1960s. I have a photo of them together.

-> Leeds family overjoyed as lifesaving cystic fibrosis drug given green light on NHS"We lived in Otley, West Yorkshire, and Harry lived in nearby Guiseley.

"My dad earned a good reputation as a financial expert and worked with a few people connected to the showbiz industry. I also met Harry's son, Matthew Corbett.

"I remember Harry coming to our house in Otley and entertaining us with Sooty shows.

"Knowing dad so well, he must have been touched by our plight. Max and I were only small when mum became poorly.

"He also gave us a set of vintage puppets. I played with Soo all the time. Max used to play with Sooty a lot.

"Sweep got a bit left out. Harry told us the puppets had been on the Sooty TV show.

"I was only nine and my brother was 11 when we lost our mum, Jackie Jowett, to breast cancer.

"She was diagnosed with the illness in her late 30s back in the early 1970s and died from it at the age of 46 in 1980.

-> Yorkshire woman born in Headingley pub celebrates 108th birthday"Sadly, my dad is no longer around to ask as he died in 1999, but I imagine Harry wanted to cheer us up due to mum's illness.

"Breast cancer has claimed the lives of a few women in my family - in fact I was diagnosed with it at 46.

"But I was carefully monitored after losing mum and was successfully treated thanks to radical surgery.

"The puppets have been stuck in a box for around 45 years and we thought it would be nice for them to go to someone who would treasure them or even go on display in a museum. They deserve to be seen and enjoyed.

"I plan to make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Care from the proceeds of the sale."

Hansons Auctioneers achieved a world-record price when an original Sooty puppet sold for a total of £14,500 last year.

They also sold a vintage Sooty puppet to Richard Cadell, magician and presenter of The Sooty Show, for £3,100 back in 2008.

This is the first time the auction house has placed a full set of original vintage Harry Corbett puppets up for auction.

Owner Charles Hanson said: "What an amazing story and set of puppets to own.

"The discovery has revealed what a big heart Harry Corbett had. It was a tremendous act of kindness.

"Imagine Harry himself entertaining you with a private Sooty show in your own house as a child. What a treat and what a wonderful way to deliver a bit of happiness.

"Another uplifting aspect of this story is that Vicky has beaten breast cancer, which women in her family are genetically prone to, due to advances in treatment and monitoring.

"That's something to celebrate in October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month."

Harry Corbett invented Sooty in 1948 after buying a puppet for 7/6 (37p) during a holiday in Blackpool to entertain his children.

He passed away at the age of 71 in 1989 but left a legacy that lives on.

The Sooty Show has a place in the Guinness Book Of Records as the longest-running children's television show ever.

The Harry Corbett Sooty, Sweep and Soo puppets will be sold on November 19 in Etwall, Derbys.