Repair Shop viewers burst into tears over their late brother’s toy
Repair Shop viewers broke down in tears last night as the team restored a 57-year-old toy
Lorraine Thomas, from Llandudno, Wales, lost her twin brother Mark in a road accident aged 21.
Arriving at the repair shop’s headquarters in Chichester, the grieving sister explained that she couldn’t bear to part with Mark’s toy donkey – even though it was falling apart.
When they were born, Lorraine’s parents gave her a stuffed animal which she named “poodle” while Mark was given “donkey”.
She explained, “Donkey is my connection to Mark.” He absolutely adored him and went everywhere with him.’
“He was like a stuffed animal I think – we lost our mother when we were seven and Donkey helped him through the hard times.”
Though Lorraine said she would never accept losing her twin at such a young age, she added, “You just have to learn to live with it.”
Lorraine said she was incredibly attached to the toy as a result – which had lost its eye and shed its original filling.
The episode, which first aired in 2021, follows vintage toy restorers Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell doing their best to make Donkey look like new again.
First, the two turned the toy over to give Donkey a new felt lining.
As well as stitching the holes, Amanda reworked the toy’s 57-year-old metal framework, which allows donkeys to stand.
After re-stuffing the toy, Julie added the finishing touches to the restored toy by sewing on new eyes.
When they began the project, the restorers turned to Merrythought and were delighted when the toymaker found the original set of eyes designed for this particular model.
Lorraine Thomas (pictured) looked visibly emotional as she was reunited with her late brother’s beloved stuffed animal following the restoration
Pictured: What the 57-year-old stuffed animal looked like when Lorraine brought it to The Repair Shop team
Pictured: Lorraine and her late brother Mark when they were children. Sadly, Mark died in a traffic accident at the age of 21
Julie said, “We have these perfect, perfect original eyes here.”
“You have to remember that these were actually made for the Merrythought company for these donkeys in the 1950s.”
Amanda added, “We were dying to use them as they are so rare and unique.”
“And being able to put the original eye into the toy it was intended for is just perfect.”
The only part of the toy that the two women didn’t touch were some stitches Mark had made on Donkey’s back.
Vintage toy restorer Amanda Middleditch (pictured) started by giving Donkey a new felt lining
Amanda also reinforced the toy’s metal frame and then added more original filling to help Donkey stand again
Vintage toy restorers Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell completed the project by sewing on two eyes designed specifically for this toy in the 1950s
Pictured: The team gave the priceless toy a blue ribbon for its unveiling at Repair Shop headquarters
Returning to the repair shop’s headquarters, Lorraine admitted that it was “strange” not having Donkey in the house and said she was thinking more about her late brother.
When the restored toy was unveiled, Lorraine was visibly touched to see the donkey looking good as new again.
Holding back tears, she gushed it was “wonderful” and went over to pat Donkey’s ears.
“Gosh, that’s amazing,” Lorraine said. “Hello donkey! Oh god, that’s wonderful. Really wonderful, thank you.’
Addressing the toy, she joked, “Look at you, you can see me with those beautiful big eyes now!”
The episode, which first aired in 2021, brought tears to viewers’ eyes as Lorraine saw her late brother’s favorite toy again
Needless to say, the emotional reunion resonated with viewers at home, too.
One tweeted: “Why does the workshop always make me cry when there’s someone with a stuffed animal?”
Another added, “You can tell the connection to her brother Donkey’s owner means so much.”
“Only The Repair Shop can get you emotional about a shaky ass,” said a third.
Meanwhile, a fourth said: “I’m not sure I’m emotionally strong enough for The Repair Shop today and that’s before Donkey…”
After the show first aired, Lorraine narrated North Wales Live that she had been approached by members of the public to discuss the incident.
Describing the “amazing” reaction, she added, “I received a lot of nice messages and people stopped me on the street, even complete strangers.”
“People came into the store and said how touched they were by the program.”