HUNDREDS of families braved the windy weather to catch a glimpse of Fireman Sam when he came to Wrexham yesterday.
Parents and children turned up in their droves at the Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre, where Sam, the “hero next door”, posed for photographs with excited youngsters.
Queues wound back through the shopping centre and some people waited for more than an hour for the chance to meet the legendary firefighter from the fictional Welsh town of Pontypandy.
Among those lucky enough to meet Sam was four-year-old Louis Parsonage, who had been waiting patiently in line with his mum, Mary Parsonage, of Caergwrle, for about half an hour.
Mary said: “Louis is a massive fan of Sam’s and has been ever since he was old enough to watch TV.
“He knows everything about him and the rest of the firemen in Pontypandy and all the things they get up to.
“We heard that Sam was coming to Eagles Meadow and Louis just had to be here to see him.”
Louis himself said: “I met Sam and shook hands with him. I really like him and see all his adventures, so it was great to meet him.”
Five-year-old Amelia Wallis, of Buckley, was also happy to wait in the queue for the chance to meet Sam face to face. She eventually got to shake hands with him and also introduced him to her twin baby brothers, Mason and Alfie Pownall.
Amelia told him she had all his Fireman Sam toys, including the fire engine and helicopter he uses to fight fires around his famous home town.
Gary Sheppard brought along his two-year-old son Konner, from Coedpoeth, for a thrilling appointment with Sam.
As his son shook hands with the superstar guest Gary said: “The queue to meet him was enormous and we were waiting in it for about 45 minutes but Konner didn’t seem to care one bit as long as he could meet Sam.”
Ellis-Morgan Quinn, three, who was there with his mum Samantha, from Buckley, said after meeting Sam: “I really like him because he has a great fire engine and puts out all the fires.
“I always watch him on TV and I’ve got all his toys. It’s my birthday soon and I hope I’ll be getting some more of them!”
Running round in circles of pure delight after speaking to Sam was three-year-old Harry Matthews, of Hightown, Wrexham, who was there with his mum, Hayley.
Hayley said: “Harry just adores Sam and couldn’t wait to see him.
“I really like Sam because he has a fire engine and I really enjoyed meeting him,” said an overjoyed Harry.
Sarah Cook, who was with her two-year-old daughter Eva, didn’t mind the wait either.
She said: “It’s Fireman Sam, he is great isn’t he. We queued for an hour but it was worth it. The kids loved it, it was worth every minute of waiting about.”
For some children, the excitement proved at bit too much.
Ffion Jones, three, was overawed by the occasion and was a bit coy when finally meeting big Sam.
Her mum Ceri said: “She was excited until she saw him, but she loves him on the telly.
She added: “I got to high five Fireman Sam so it was worth it. We got a nice picture out of it as well.”
While Sam was meeting and greeting his fans at one end of Eagles Meadow, a crew of five firefighters from Red Watch at the Wrexham station were at the opposite end of the centre attracting a queue of their own.
They brought along one of their fire engines, bristling with all the latest equipment, for youngsters to see at close quarters – and climb aboard.
The firefighters also ran a special firework and bonfire safety quiz and all those taking part received a special prize.
Red Watch commander Tim Owen said: “We like to get out and about to meet the public and tell them what we do, so it was good to have the opportunity to come along to Eagles Meadow and get over some basic safety tips just before Bonfire Night.”