The autistic seven-year-old gave Sweep a big hug and a kiss when kind-hearted staff at the MFA Bowl in Preston brought them back together after a tearful week apart.
The toy went missing after a family visit to the centre in Greenbank Street. When Sweep turned up, the MFA Bowl put out an appeal in the columns of the Post and the story went viral.
Charlie’s mum Emma spotted the picture in the paper and got in touch after the story was shared to thousands online. “We’re ever so grateful to the staff at the bowling alley,” said Emma at home in Crookings Lane, Penwortham.
“They didn’t need to go as far as they did, they were brilliant.
“Charlie loves that teddy. He collects them, but Sweep is his favourite. It goes to bed with him every night.
“We had finished bowling and we were playing in the arcades. My boyfriend moved our coats, but we only noticed Sweep was missing when we were ready to leave. The staff searched everywhere, but they couldn’t find it. I told them Charlie has autism and they would call us if it turned up. But they must have written our number down wrong.
“Charlie was heartbroken. He was worried that Sweep wasn’t going to be alright. I work at a school and we had some gymnasts who had been featured in the Post. Someone was showing the article to the teacher and, on the opposite page, there was a photo of Sweep. It was only by chance that I saw it, otherwise we night never have got him back. Charlie is over the moon to have him back.”
Joe Deaven, supervisor at MFA Bowl, said: “The little boy was distraught when we couldn’t find his cuddly toy. We looked everywhere, but there was no sign of it.
“Then another family who had picked it up by mistake returned it the following day. But unfortunately we must have written the family’s number down wrong. So we put out an appeal in the Post and on social media to see if we could find the little boy.”