The Diary: Bear-ly a country that he hasn’t seen

Montmorency, the Handsworth Christian School mascot, in Machu Picchu, Peru
Montmorency, the Handsworth Christian School mascot, in Machu Picchu, Peru
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He’s visited British soldiers in Afghanistan and political demonstrators in Bangkok, he’s looked out over the Grand Canyon and sat in front of the White House, he’s taken in the super-modern skyscrapers of Shanghai and the ancient pyramids of Egypt.

He may just be the best- travelled Sheffielder of all time.

Meet Montmorency the teddy bear, official three- inch mascot of Handsworth Christian School.

Whenever teachers or students go abroad they take the furry little fella with them and snap him enjoying the scenery. It’s hoped that having the resulting pictures up at school will help youngsters with their geography.

And it means Montmorency has been to six continents; to Spain so many times he’s practically a local; and to a bona-fide war zone. That was Afghanistan. A former pupil who joined the Army asked to take the fuzzball as a good luck charm.

He was caught up in the 2010 political demonstrations in Thailand – “he’s very much in favour of democracy,” notes headteacher Pauline Arnott.

And he’s mingled with penguins and other wildlife on safari in South Africa.

“Where did the tradition come from?” ponders Mrs Arnott, who has run the 90-student school, which caters for four- to 16-year-olds, since it opened in 1986. “About 12 years ago I saw this adorable little bear in Meadowhall and thought it would make a lovely mascot.

“There’s a theory that if you have a soft toy visit different places it helps younger pupils with geography, and we decided to give it a go.

“It’s definitely worked. It really captures the imagination.

“ Last year we had a project where our younger pupils had to write Montmorency’s diary while he was in Machu Picchu, Peru. They came up with some wonderful work.”

She estimates he’s been to more than 35 countries in all. And now the school is planning an exhibition of the bear’s adventures.

Montmorency, himself, meanwhile, is no doubt already looking to his next trip away.