The Repair Shop leaves guest ‘amazed’ by doll restoration from prisoner of war father

The Repair Shop: Owners emotional over restored teddy

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One of the latest guests to The Repair Shop will bring in an heirloom with an impressive and emotional story. Jay Blades and the rest of the team meet Jane Devereux and learn how she didn’t meet her prisoner of war father until she was four years old. Jane will bring a doll, named Mary-Lynn bought by her father into the shed to be repaired.

The episode will see soft toy and doll restorers Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell working together on the special item for  80-year-old Jan and her granddaughter Millie.

The pensioner explained she remembered receiving the doll when she was four, and it was when she met her father for the first time.

She reminisced: “I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I’d never had a doll before.”

Returning home after being held as a Japanese prisoner of war in 1945, he presented her with a blue-eyed, blond-haired doll.

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She played with the doll all the time, but when a neighbourhood boy strapped it to his bike, Mary-Lynn started to get weathered.

As reported by the Mirror, Jane’s father John Vincent Bowen was a second lieutenant with the Northumberland fusiliers.

John was there the day she was born in October 1941, but the very next day set sail to Singapore and was captured by the Japanese shortly after.

Giving more detail, Jan added: “Prisoners were treated like slaves as they built the Burma railway.

“Eventually, he was rescued by Russian troops and sent to Canada.”

Having only met him as a newborn, she continued: “He came back to England on the Queen Elizabeth in November 1945. I was told, ‘You’re going to meet your daddy’, but I hadn’t even seen a photo. I didn’t know what a daddy was.

“I remember being dressed in a pink sweater, pleated skirt, socks and shoes, walking into a bedroom and seeing my father for the first time. He pulled the doll out of his knapsack and gave her to me. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

On why the doll was so special, she described: “Nobody had toys when I was a child. It was post-war; there was no money. 

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“Mary-Lynn was always with me in a little pram. She had this blonde hair and lacy knickers. None of my friends had seen anything like her.

“There was a little boy in my street who thought she was rather nice and tied her to the front of his bicycle and rode off home with her. 

“But he left her out in the rain. I remember getting her back and thinking, ‘She’s ruined!’”

Now her granddaughter Millie had her eye on the doll, adding: “She has an amazing story and Granny said she used to be beautiful.”

With the trusted hands of Amanda and Julie working on the doll the owner is set to be amazed with the reveal.

The results have been teased, with Jane concluding: “When I saw the new Mary-Lynn, I was amazed. I was straight back to being a four-year-old.

“Millie held her all the way home, then tucked her up in bed and read her a story. Mary-Lynn is like a birth certificate for my life with my father. Now the story will stay in our family forever.”

The Repair Shop airs tonight BBC One at 3.45pm

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