A VINTAGE Sooty puppet discovered in Dunblane is set to go under the hammer thanks to Richard Cadell spotting its star quality.

While mum Tina Stewart knew there was something special about the well-worn glove puppet when she took her six-year-old son Kyle to The Sooty Show in Stirling, she did not realise its true value.

The show’s owner, puppeteer Richard Cadell, quickly recognised its special quality when the duo met him after the performance.

Mrs Stewart, a veterinary receptionist, said: “He pointed out his distinctive features - a longer body, leather pads and sawdust in his head.

“He mentioned that he might be worth a lot of money and told us to look after him.”

The knowledge was spot on as Mrs Stewart’s father Paul Mouncey, a retired biology teacher from Comrie, used to know Sooty’s original inventor Harry Corbett, who gave one of his TV puppets to the family.

The Dunblane mother added: “When I was small, we used to live in the same village as Harry Corbett and his family - Child Okeford in Dorset.

“Dad remembers taking me to see Harry and going into his workshop where he used to make the props and backdrops for the shows.

“He used a trailer to transport his props and my father ended up buying it from him.

“On one occasion when we visited him, dad mentioned that Harry took a liking to me and that’s when he gave me the original Sooty from the show.

“He also gave me a black and white picture of himself with the puppets and signed it, ‘Love from Sooty, Sweep, Soo and Harry Corbett’.

“I was three so it would have been in 1978. Because I was so young, I can’t remember much about it.

“We always knew our Sooty puppet was extra special. My parents said I had to be extra careful with him if I played with him. Harry told us he’d been on the Sooty TV shows.

“It was after I’d spoken to Richard Cadell that I decided I should part with him.

“If my Sooty was so special, it was a shame he’d just been sitting in a box for 40 years.

“It’s time for someone else to enjoy him. Perhaps he should be in a toy museum.”

The puppet is set to go under the hammer at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers’ on September 19 with an estimate of £800-£1,200.

Richard Cadell said: “I couldn’t believe it when Kyle brought this along to my show. His family simply didn’t have any idea as to its significance.

“This is without question an original television Sooty that would have been used some point on television in the mid-1970s by Sooty’s creator Harry Corbett.

“I would estimate he is around 45 to 50 years old.

“The background story certainly rings true.

“Harry retired to Dorset in the mid-1970s and on occasion did part with his original Sooty puppets if he felt good reason.

“He was a generous and kind man and this would have been given with his love and affection.

“It’s wonderful that this Sooty has been discovered after all these years.”