A surprise awaits in Pembrey woods

WITH enviable walks, thousands of trees, and a sandy beach, Pembrey Country Park has all the bare necessities for a day out.

But this 12ft beast could soon be a regular sight as part of a new children’s adventure trail.

A planning application by Carmarthenshire Council said the carved bear was based on local stories of bears that survived a shipwreck and escaped into the woods.

The park’s ursine addition was sculpted by Simon Hedger, who lives near Carmarthen.

“When I heard it was going to Pembrey Country Park I knew it was such a wonderful location,” he said.

The 57-year-old said he based the creature’s friendly demeanour on big screen bears such as Paddington, Baloo from The Jungle Book, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

“I think he has got a very nice expression,” said Mr Hedger. “I’m very happy with my bear carving.”

He said he used a high quality piece of oak which took three weeks to whittle down to the finished article.

“Very often an oak tree trunk has a bend and I used that as the backside,” said Mr Hedger, whose other work includes giant Alice in Wonderland sculptures in Llandudno.

“It’s got to be 12ft tall – and he will be around forever.”

At £3,000 including materials, Mr Hedger said he reckoned the council has got a good deal with the bear.

It is understood that external grant funding acquired by the authority will fund the sculpture.

Pembrey councillor Shirley Matthews said she was looking forward to seeing the bear in its new environment.

“I think it’s a lovely idea,” she said. “It will be marvellous for the children.”

Cllr Matthews said the country park was thriving following recent investment from the county council.

Asked about stories of shipwrecked bears, she said there were gruesome tales of “the little hatchet men of Pembrey” luring and then looting vessels, including chopping off people’s fingers to get at their jewellery.

“I’ve not heard of any grizzly bears though I must admit,” she said.

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