Who’s that there with the Bear? It’s the Mayor!

Mayor, Cllr Billy Ashe. INBT 50-105JC
Mayor, Cllr Billy Ashe. INBT 50-105JC

Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe has had an audience with Ballymena Bear.

And after his Mayoral meet and greet, Cllr Ashe said: “Ballymena Bear helped add a real touch of magic for Christmas.”

Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Cllr Billy Ashe and Cllr Audrey Wales with the Ballymena Bear. INBT 50-104JC

Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Cllr Billy Ashe and Cllr Audrey Wales with the Ballymena Bear. INBT 50-104JC

The bear is the star of a commercial that encourages shoppers into the town during the busy pre-Christmas period and is a heart-warming story of the lost bear’s adventures set against the backdrop of a particularly festive Ballymena.

The advert was commissioned by the Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID), a body set up by local retailers as an effective way in which businesses can take control and improve their trading environment.

Cllr Audrey Wales, one of the directors on the Ballymena BID Board, said: “We are trying to encourage more visitors to come to Ballymena and to experience what we have to offer.”

Meanwhile, a Facebook and Twitter competition is currently running to ‘name that bear’.

“It is due to end on Friday 11 December, when the winning name will be revealed,” Cllr Wales said.

Creative Consultant Stephen Reid, 29, from Ballymena-based Grafters Designs, shot and produced the now ‘famous’ advert, a short film telling the story of a little brown bear which falls out of a box while being couriered.

The bear has to scour the shops and cafes of Ballymena to track down the little girl for whom he was made.

Eventually, the bear, which was hand stitched by Michelle Lowry, owner of the Penny & Rose gift shop, and made from locally produced Baird McNutt linen, is reunited just in time for the Christmas light’s switch-on.