FIREMAN Sam was called out to attend Northfield Shopping Centre last week, much to the delight of visiting youngsters.
The character is a firm favourite with pre-schoolers and crowds at the Birmingham mall were entertained by his half-term visit on Friday.
One youngster particularly excited to meet his hero was five-year-old Joshua Brueton who had been brought down to the Northfield by his mum Samantha Gloster.
She said: “He’s a huge fan and has been from a very young age. I had to decorate his room all in Fireman Sam things and he absolutely loves the stuff.
“He watched the series and loved the films too so he’s very happy now as he got to go up and shake hands with him.”
Living in Bartley Green, the family came to the Northfield to shop, unaware there would be an extra surprise in store when they got there.
Samantha, aged 27, said: “We didn’t know this was on so it was a great surprise for Joshua. It’s a real bonus for the kids when there is something like this on, especially during the school holidays.”
Fireman Sam has been a hugely successful television series, ever since its creation in 1987, and the stories of ‘the hero next door’, from Pontypandy in Wales have been translated into 36 languages across the globe.
Northfield Shopping Centre manager Pete Barber said: “We were delighted to welcome Fireman Sam to the centre during half term and his presence certainly seemed to be well received by our younger visitors.
“As a family-focused shopping centre it is vital we appeal to all ages of our local community and we always do what we can to help keep little ones entertained during the school holidays.”
Another family delighted to discover a TV favourite in their local shopping centre was the Copesticks from Rubery, especially little Corey who turned four on Sunday.
As an extra birthday treat the youngster got to meet his hero and mum, Leanne Copestick, said the little boy was over the moon.
She added: “He’s a big Fireman Sam fan and watches it all the time. He’s got loads of the trucks and stuff so he’s really happy now as he’s been and given him high-fives. It’s made his day.”
Debbie Rogers, from Kings Norton, made a special trip to Northfield Shopping Centre after a friend tipped her off about the visit from Fireman Sam.
She brought her five-year-old son Connor Davies down to meet the character and the youngster enjoyed an impromptu sparring session with Sam.
Debbie, aged 31, said: “Connor insisted on wearing boxing gloves today, I’ve no idea why but it wasn’t worth arguing, so when Fireman Sam saw them he started play fighting with him.
“Connor was loving it and he had his picture taken with him too. He was a bit shy at first but really enjoyed it in the end.”
The family visit the mall most weeks and have enjoyed several local days out while Connor has been on holidays from Ark Rose Primary School.
“It’s difficult because the kids get bored easily so it’s great when there is something like this on to keep them entertained,” added Debbie.
Northfield Shopping centre is home to more than 40 stores, from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink, and has more than 650 parking spaces. More details at www.northfieldshopping.co.uk.