FIREMAN Sam kept a red hot date with scores of his adoring young fans.
The legendary firefighter from Pontypandy – known as Sam Tân in Welsh – was at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham yesterday where he teamed up with his counterparts from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who arrived aboard one of their fire engines, to get over the vital message that staying well away from fire is so important.
Youngsters had the chance to join in with a special fire safety quiz in an inflatable igloo with all those taking part being awarded a prize.
Among those lucky enough to meet their larger than life hero was three-year-old Dylan Catherall from Buckley who was specially dressed for the occasion in his Fireman Sam T-shirt.
His mum Lisa Catherall, who brought him along, said: “Dylan was thrilled to meet Sam because he absolutely loves him. In fact, when we’re out he always wants us to call into Buckley Fire Station to meet the real firefighters. They’re very good and let him sit in the fire engine.
“It was great for him to meet Sam today and it was very good of Eagles Meadow to arrange for him to be here.”
Another youngster keen to meet Fireman Sam was two-year-old Harley Evans from Maesydre in Wrexham.
His mum Alison Williams said: “We didn’t hear about Sam being here until a couple of hours before he came but as soon as we found out Harley had us dashing here to see him.
“Sam is his absolute hero and he has all his DVDs and other things with Sam’s name on.”
Lydia Waters from Hawarden was so overjoyed at meeting Sam that it left her speechless, so she just gave him a big cuddle instead.
Her dad Paul Waters said three-year-old Lydia thought of Sam “24/7” and had all his DVDs and other toys.
“It gave her a massive thrill to actually meet him here today,” added Paul.
Two-year-old Oscar Hughes came along to Eagles Meadow with his mum Laura Hughes from Buckley.
Two-year-old Taylor Edge from Coedpoeth queued up to see the star clutching his own mini Fireman Sam model, which really impressed the man himself when he saw it.
Taylor’s mum Ashley Griffiths said: “He’s a huge fan and it was fantastic for him to see Sam here today.”
And it was big hugs all round when Freya Garland, three, from Acrefair got her chance to meet Sam.
“We were just out shopping and didn’t know Sam would be here today, so it was a marvellous surprise for Nadine when we saw all the other children waiting to meet him. She made us join the queue and it was certainly worth it because she just adores Sam,” said her mum Nadine Garland.
While Sam was meeting and greeting his fans at one end of Eagles Meadow, a crew of real live firefighters from Wrexham Fire Station were attracting a big following of kids and parents 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.
Rhian Williams, from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s publicity department who was manning the fire safety igloo, said: “We had a really busy day talking to families and young people about the importance of fire safety in the home.
“There was a great atmosphere and everyone had a great time meeting Fireman Sam who helped us to spread the word about keeping the people of Wrexham safe.
“More safety tips are available on our website at www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk”
Fireman Sam is the central character of an animated children’s TV series about the firefighting team and other townspeople in a fictional rural town in the South Wales valleys.
The original idea for the show came from two ex-firemen from Kent, Dave Gingell and Dave Jones, and was created for the TV screen 30 years ago by young Welsh writer Nia Ceidiog, who comes from Coedpoeth and is a former pupil of Ysgol Morgan Llwyd.
Now a highly successful producer of children’s programmes, Nia continued to write the scripts – in Welsh and English – for many years.
The original shows are still being shown across the world and continue to be popular with young viewers. There has since been a new Fireman Sam TV series and there are also games, vidoes and other activities.
Nia said: “I think it’s fantastic that Sam is also still doing his rounds in person and that he went along to Eagles Meadow to spread the word about fire safety.”
The visit by Fireman Sam is the latest in a series of appearances by popular TV characters as part of a “Celebrity Summer” at Eagles Meadow. The final visit will be by Lau Lau from Waybuloo on Tuesday.
Kevin Critchley, the manager of Eagles Meadow, is a big fan of Fireman Sam and said: “Fire safety is a vitally important issue and I am delighted we will be playing our part in getting the message across to the youngsters who come to see