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Lost Daleks found just in time for BBC Children in Need Pudsey fundraiser at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon

Two Daleks made for an intergalactic BBC Children in Need fundraiser 27 years ago have been reunited following mysterious disappearance. To celebrate 20 years since their last public appearance, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon is raising funds for BBC Children in Need during a new fundraiser event, ‘Return to Space Station Pudsey’ on November 17th, 2023!

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon is pleased to confirm the two gold and grey Daleks created for a Space Station Pudsey charitable event in November 1996 have now been reunited with their custodian and builder, after mysteriously vanishing 20 years ago.  

To mark the Daleks’ incredible return, the Centre has announced it will be raising funds for BBC Children in Need by hosting a Return to Space Station Pudsey event on November 17th, as the props resume their role within the local community.  

The two working models were built by volunteer fundraiser and BT engineer John Chapman while the telecommunications company paid for materials, with the Daleks making their appearance at a BBC Children in Need fundraiser, alongside celebrities from various BBC shows, including former Doctor Who actor Tom Baker.  

John Chapman, former BT engineer and volunteer fundraiser, spoke of the two Daleks: “They took 6 months to construct and a lot of my spare time. We were so pleased to get the OK to build them and they contributed to an exciting evening on TV and radio.” 

The event organiser at the time was Dave Latham, who was a BT Community Relations Manager in the area. “The two Daleks had only been built with one aim - to raise funds for BBC Children in Need and they patrolled a gantry suspended above the public space at North Star House. They remained in character and looked incredibly menacing. Importantly, they drew a lot of attention from visitors,” said Dave. 

After the 1996 fundraiser, the two Daleks were used again in 2003 for Space Station Pudsey 2, hosted at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon, in partnership with Dave Latham in his then new role as Children in Need producer at BBC Wiltshire. Shortly afterwards, however, the models went missing.  

Speaking of the loss, John Chapman said: “They were clearly identified as Children in Need fundraising props, and somebody went to a great deal of effort to snatch them. I reported the models as stolen to Wiltshire Police and realised it was possible I would never see them again.” 

Co-organiser of Space Station Pudsey 2 Anita Jaynes, who now runs The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire, expressed the views of the organisers and volunteers at the time: “After all the hard work that John and others had put in, and then to have them taken, it was very upsetting for the team. These were built for charitable purposes only. A really sad situation.” 

Then, 18 years later, something quite remarkable happened.  Auctioneers in Scotland were preparing for their 'Works of Art' auction which was due to take place in December 2021. A grey, full-size Dalek was to be included as one of the lots. This, along with a second, gold Dalek had apparently been discovered in a barn, in Avon, earlier in the year. In order for them to list the Dalek accurately for the auction, it became clear that some research was required to uncover the history behind this prop and where it might have been used both on screen and in public. 

John Darley from projectdalek.co.uk was contacted and supplied with photos of both the grey Dalek and the second gold Dalek. In John's words: "Only a handful of Daleks were built for the original TV show in the 1960s and then a few more in the 1970s. Most Daleks which come up for sale are modern fan-made replicas. In that respect, these two Daleks were no different and it was easy to deduce that they weren't from the show.  

However, they did look quite old, so there was obviously some history to them. After a bit of research and a few conversations with other Project Dalek members, we managed to identify the Daleks as being those stolen in 2004. John Chapman had been a member of Project Dalek since 2006, so it was easy for me to locate his contact details and drop him an email with the news that his Daleks had been found. This wasn't really the provenance that anyone expected, but good news for John." 

John Chapman was able to recognise his work immediately and Wiltshire Police went in search of the second lost prop. Thankfully, the police were able to locate the gold Dalek at another location close to Swindon. Now, the two lost Daleks are back, just in time for the 20th anniversary of Space Station Pudsey 2, and, by coincidence, the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who. To celebrate their retrieval, a Return to Space Station Pudsey is scheduled again at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon on Friday, November 17th with Pudsey fundraisers, as well as travellers in time and space, invited to come together for this occasion.  

Tina Cumpstey, Centre Manager at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon, said: “The story of the two lost Daleks is unlike any mysteries our local community has seen before. From their disappearance after the Space Station Pudsey 2 at our Centre two decades ago, to their unlikely return, we are thrilled to be supporting BBC Children in Need by hosting the grand Return to Space Station Pudsey. We encourage all our guests to visit and witness the two Daleks around the centre and consider supporting the fantastic cause that the Children in Need team has been dedicated to for decades.” 

Dave Latham, former Space Station Pudsey 1996 organiser, said: “We are very excited to announce these two wonderful, lost models will make an appearance at this year’s Return to Space Station Pudsey at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon, on Friday, November 17th. Hopefully the two Daleks will encourage Centre guests and Doctor Who lovers to make a donation to the incredible cause that is BBC Children in Need.” 

For more information, click here.

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