Dragons' den cheer for shoppers
Dragons which comforted a little girl during a family tragedy are being used to bring joy to other children, adults - and businesses - in Sheringham.When Maddie Wright's dad died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2002, two days before her second birthday, her family wanted to find something to help her cope whenever she was sad.
Dragons which comforted a little girl during a family tragedy are being used to bring joy to other children, adults - and businesses - in Sheringham.
When Maddie Wright's dad died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2002, two days before her second birthday, her family wanted to find something to help her cope whenever she was sad.
Inspired by a neighbour who had faced her own personal tragedy, they introduced the little girl to Pip, a six-inch clay dragon created by their neighbour's son, and encouraged her to lose herself in stories about him.
Robert Kirby, Maddie's granddad, said: 'It was a fairy story to take her away from what was happening.'
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More than six years on, the schoolgirl, now eight, is still a firm believer in her dragon world and Pip has been joined by several more, much larger, dragons.
Maddie's grandmother Mary Kirby, who runs the Sewing Room and Miss Madeleine's Giftware Emporium in Sheringham, has created nine, 4ft versions of her granddaughter's magical friends.
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Since Christmas the creatures, made from chicken wire and leftover material, have been brightening up the town's Courtyard shopping area and each one is themed to tie-in with the area's shops. Dahl, a dragon professor, clutches a book outside the Peter Pan Bookshop while Snip, hovering near the hairdressers, is armed with a can of hairspray.
The creatures are proving a big hit with children and adults in the town who wander into the Courtyard and lose themselves in the dragons' lair. Mrs Kirby said she had been told by one shopper the dragons had 'lifted her heart' during an upsetting time for her.
But her husband said it was not only the curious passersby who were finding comfort - the businesses were also being helped through difficult times, thanks to the extra trade.
The father-of-two said: 'People who have lived in Sheringham all their lives but never knew the courtyard was here are being drawn in.'
Although the dragons only planned to stay for Christmas, they have been such a hit the Kirby's agreed to keep them around until the end of this month and are now encouraging other children to get involved with the fantasy.
Children under 11 are being asked to draw or paint a picture of their dragon, or write a story about it, and prizes will be awarded for the best ones.
Entry forms are available from Miss Madeleine's Giftware Emporium and need to be returned to the shop by January 31.
For more information call 01263 821990.