Puppet Percy recovered from rubbish tip ordeal

11 December 2017

The puppet star of a touring theatre company production feared lost forever after being mistakenly put in a rubbish bin has been reunited with its owners – thanks to a Newark and Sherwood District Council waste crew and partners Veolia.

‌‌Percy Penguin, who ironically features in the children’s show Lost and Found, disappeared into the back of a bin lorry before being carted off on a journey which could have finished off his acting career.

More than  130 tonnes of waste are collected by the council every day and while Percy’s touring company, Ollerton-based Little Blue Monster Productions, reported him missing, the chances of finding him among the refuse were extremely slim.

Staff from the council and Veolia, which operates the waste transfer station at Brunel Drive in Newark, were asked to check their loads for the hapless puppet who had just been returned to the theatre company after being repaired.

Matt Adey, council waste management assistant business manager, said: “Fortunately, on this occasion, the driver of the bin lorry, Bob Macrae-Clifton, recalled that the bin was one of the first loaded onto his truck, and that the black bag containing Percy would be at the top of the tipped pile. When the lorry came to the waste transfer station and tipped its load we were able to look through the rubbish and due to the size of the puppet and the fact staff knew roughly where it would be they thankfully found Percy.

 “Usually it is smaller items like keys or rings which go missing and unfortunately we have to say that there is little chance of recovering them. The loads are just too big and the items lost too small to find.”

Perhaps it is no surprise Percy went missing given his current starring role in Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found which tells the story of a young boy who finds a stray and sad-looking penguin at his door.

Luckily, Percy only missed one performance with his absence filled by an understudy. He has since been reunited with the theatre’s touring team in Northamptonshire after quickly recovering from his ordeal and is now back delighting children nationwide.

Matt added: “It is the season of goodwill and we are thrilled to have been able to safely reunite Percy with his owners. Let’s hope he stays away from bins and bin lorries in the future.”

Bob said: “The owners were extremely lucky that it was so well wrapped up and had stayed clean because the waste gets really compacted and can get very dirty and smelly. It’s lovely at Christmas to have a story with such a happy ending and so apt that the puppet should be starring in a production of Lost and Found.”


 Richard Allen, contract logistics manager for Veolia,  said: “We were pleased to be able to assist with the penguin rescue. Dan and Reece from our transfer station in Newark were quick off the mark and retrieved the fluffy fella before he came to any harm.” 

To ensure Percy avoids getting mistaken for recycling in future Veolia have offered him his own penguin high-vis vest and all the information about what can be recycled in Nottinghamshire. 

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