What is your favourite childhood toy?

PUBLISHED: 16:29 11 December 2015 | UPDATED: 17:09 11 December 2015

Ampika Pickston' Favorite toy

Ampika Pickston' Favorite toy


Christmasses come and go but happy memories remain. Cheshire’s high fliers remember toys they have cherished. Words by Janet Reeder

Chris Hawkins of Radio Six and his teddyChris Hawkins of Radio Six and his teddy

Chris Hawkins and Teddy
Chris Hawkins presents the Early Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 6 Music, he is married to ITV children’s writer and TV meteorologist Clare Nasir and they live with daughter Sienna in Wilmslow

What is your toy?
My childhood teddy

Do you remember how you got him?
I was too young to remember getting him but I don’t remember life without him.

Does he have a name?
He was imaginatively christened Teddy.

Do you have any memories about playing with him? Taking him anywhere?
He became as well travelled as Paddington. He joined us on family holidays to Abersoch, Spain and had a close shave on a beach in Morocco when I assumed he could swim. Fortunately my dad knew otherwise and rescued him from a very long swim in the Atlantic.

What did you like so much about Teddy?
He was always a very good listener.

Why have you kept him?
He’s been pulled out of countless charity boxes in the hallway through the years and now, age 35, happily keeps my daughter Sienna’s bed warm.

Armand Beasley with his childhood toy elephantArmand Beasley with his childhood toy elephant


Armand Beasley & Elephant
Armand Beasley is a celebrity make-up artist and beauty presenter and also writes a monthly column for Cheshire Life. He lives in Altrincham.

What is your toy?
A plastic elephant.

Do you remember how you got him?
OMG! I think I got him when we went on holiday to Butlins in the 1980s. It was a long time ago.

Does he have a name?
Er. No. I never got around to naming him. he was just elephant.

How old were you when you were given him?
I was about seven years old.

Do you have any memories about playing with him? Taking him anywhere?
I remember taking him to Knowsley Safari Park. I had opened the window of the car and was trying to communicate by waving him about and doing this loud elephant noise. There was this huge elephant there that just picked up some gravel with its trunk and threw it on the car. Needless to say, elephant impressions are not on my CV.

What did you like so much about it?
I’ve always had a thing for elephants - especially African ones with their big ears. In fact a few years ago my sister ‘adopted’ an elephant for me as a gift, so now I have a real life elephant in Kenya called Kureba.

Frank Cohen and his favorite toy Olive Oil from Popeye cartoonsFrank Cohen and his favorite toy Olive Oil from Popeye cartoons


Frank Cohen and Olive Oyl
Frank Cohen is one of the world’s most influential and prolific collectors of international contemporary art and a champion of modern artists. He lives in Prestbury

What is your toy?
Olive Oyl

Do you remember how you got her?
I never really had any toys when I was a kid. All I can remember is playing marbles in the street. We used to call them Alleys, which apparently comes from the fact they used to be made of alabaster. I found this Olive Oyl in an antique shop about fifty years ago.

How old were you when you got her?
Probably in my 20s. I took me back to my childhood and the times I used to go to the cinema on Saturdays. We used to go to the Premier Cinema on Cheetham Hill Road to see Flash Gordon, Captain Marvel and things that usually ended with a girl tied to a railway track.

Do you have any memories about her?
I was a big fan of Olive Oyl and Popeye. She actually dates back and is earlier than him but her grew in popularity. An American artist called Jeff Koons made a 15ft high Popeye that recently sold for $28m to the billionaire casino tycoon, Steve Wynn. They’re iconic figures.

What did you like so much about it?
Look at it. It’s really cute.

Why have you kept it?
I’ve never seen another one like it.

Ampika Pickston' Favorite toyAmpika Pickston' Favorite toy

Ampika Pickston and Annabelle
Ampika Pickston is a star of the reality TV show The Real Housewives of Cheshire and owner of Opium hair and beauty . She lives in Hale Barns

What is your toy?
It’s a doll that my grandfather gave to me.

Do you remember how you got her?
He went on holiday to Germany and saw this doll which sings and dances and just thought I’d love it.

Does she have a name?
I called her Annabelle but my grandfather called her Natasha, so when I was with him she was Natasha and when I played with her alone she was Annabelle.

How old were you when you were given it?
I was about six years old.

Do you have any memories about playing with her? Taking her anywhere?
She went everywhere with me for about a year. I took her to school in my backpack and she’d come out with the family when we went for a meal. I thought she would enjoy the meal as much as I was. She’d come on holiday and sit with me beside the pool. I was an only child so it’s been kind of like having a lifelong companion.

What did you like so much about her?
It was the look of her as she’s got this cute face and she walked as well. She’s got this stunted shuffle which is quite endearing. Also she was a surprise. it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas. My grandfather saw her and thought of me while he was on holiday and that makes her special.

Why have you kept her?
Sentimental reasons. I’d never get rid of her. I’m not that attached to most things but anything I have that’s heartfelt I keep and maybe one day I shall pass her on to my grandchildren.

Emmanuel VassEmmanuel Vass


Emmanuel Vass and his glokenspiel
Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Vass is a chart topping classical concert pianist who lives in Stockport.

What is your toy?
A toy glockenspiel.

Do you remember how you got it?
My parents bought me it as a random toy to play with. Neither of them are musical, so there was no specific purpose.

Does it have a name?
No, but my sister and I used to call it a ‘speel’ when we were little, as ‘glockenspiel’ was tricky for us to say!

How old were you when you were given it?
I think about five or six.

Do you have any memories about playing with it? Taking it anywhere?
Yes, very vivid memories. I started by playing nursery rhymes, and then developed that into making up my own little tunes. It was this that inspired me to ask for piano lessons at age six, and here I am now, age 26, with a #1 classical album, international and national broadcasts/media appearances, with a full-time career in music and teaching of the arts. It all started with this modest, unassuming, seemingly random glockenspiel!

What did you like so much about it?
I really enjoyed making my own sounds, and discovering how hitting the different combination of blocks or ‘keys’ could turn into something beautiful, and recognisable if I found a way to play a tune we all knew. It helped me discover my creativity and fascination with sound.

Why have you kept it?
Had it not been for this toy glockenspiel, my life would be unimaginably different. I may not have discovered my passion for music at such a young age; I would have developed and grown up as a very different boy and teenager. I played a lot of sports when I was younger, but decided to pursue music instead. I’ve kept the ‘speel’ as it reminds me how all great things start at a grass roots, more modest level.


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