GENERATIONS of youngsters grew up with The Sooty Show.

The beloved children’s programme, featuring Britain’s most magical bear and his friends Sweep and Soo, was on the small screen for half a century.

Lymm resident Matthew Corbett even managed to get Sooty in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest running TV show after following in his dad Harry’s footsteps.

But now the 65-year-old is cruising ahead with his other passion in life — boating.

That is why he has become patron of Lymm’s first Historic Transport Day, which will take place on June 23.

Matthew, who lives alongside the Bridgewater Canal, said: “I will get a grandstand view so I’m going to love watching the old boats and seeing them moor up outside my house. It’s going to be magical.”

Some of the working boats will have to travel for days at a leisurely 4mph to get to the festival.

Among them will be Elizabeth built in 1875, Mendip, a chocolate powder carrying boat that was owned by one of the network’s characters ‘Chocolate Charlie’ and Saturn the last of the Shropshire Union Canal flyboats.

As a boater with almost 40 years’ experience and a former presenter for Granada’s Locks and Quays, it is a topic close to Matthew’s heart.

He said: “It seems dusty, musty and old but actually it’s vibrant. The Industrial Revolution was phenomenal and the canals started all of that.

“The Bridgewater Canal was first to be dug and it changed the face of this country. It shouldn’t be forgotten. Some of the boats on Lymm’s Transport Day will have been around from the beginning.”

But that is just one highlight of the day which will feature vintage bus rides, 240 classic cars, almost 50 motorbikes, model railway displays, tractor and train rides and radiocontrolled car racing.

Organisers are hoping for 3,000 visitors.

Matthew, who has lived in Lymm with his wife Sallie for 15 years, sold the rights to Sooty in 1998 when he retired.

Bizarrely, the British institution was bought by Japanese venture capitalists at the Bank of Yokohama but it did not go to plan.

Matthew, whose real name is Peter, said: “People were floundering. They didn’t know how to write the material. It was a disaster so they removed it from the television.”

But then the show was bought by Richard Cadell, a magician who owns a theme park in Brean.

It was a relief to Matthew as Sooty, Sweep and Soo had been his family’s legacy for half a century.

“He’d always been a fan from a young child,” added Matthew, who also used to feature in iconic kids’ show Rainbow. “I approve of him I’m glad to say. It would be awful if it was on the TV and I thought it was terrible.

“I admire what he’s doing, mainly because he admired me. He uses a lot of my old material unashamedly as he purchased the intellectual properties.

“He puts a modern take on my old material which was me putting a modern take on my father’s material so some of it has come right through. I can recognise my dad in some of Richard Cadell’s sketches. It’s wonderful.”

Matthew told Weekend that one of the highlights of his career was performing The Sooty Show for George Harrison’s son.

Matthew said: “George was one of my idols and here I was being offered the chance to entertain his child.”

And it seems that all those years of presenting children’s TV have rubbed off on him.

“I’m quite interested in radio-controlled cars.

“I suppose we’re all a big kid at heart,” he added.

■ Lymm Transport Festival starts at 10.30am on Sunday, June 23. Just after 11am, a parade of cars will come through the village centre before the main event field opens at noon. The show closes with the historic sail past between 4pm and 5pm.