The Furryfolk on Holiday
Tufty Fluffytail, a young red squirrel character, was invented in 1953 by Elsie B. Mills, an employee of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), as a means of imparting clear and simple safety messages to children through a series of short books. Tufty became so popular that The Tufty Club was established in December 1961 for children under five years old. It was immediately successful, enrolling over 60,000 members in its first year, and actually still exists today, albeit with a much lower profile; see the Tufty Club site. By the early 1970s, around two million children were members and the Club had nearly 25,000 branches across the UK; through the Club, more than 30,000 Tufty books were issued to help parents teach their children about road safety.
The popularity of Tufty led to a series of public information films being commissioned for television in 1973. These stop-motion animations were created by Bura & Hardwick, the same people who created vast numbers of classic children’s programmes such as the various Trumptonshire series. The Tufty films were very short and concentrated primarily on teaching children about road safety; these 1973 films were memorably narrated by Bernard Cribbins. However, they were preceded by a much longer Tufty film, The Furryfolk on Holiday, which had been made for theatrical release in 1967. Also a Bura & Hardwick production, this 12-minute film has an extended story and uses the voices of three actors (Bernard Cribbins was not yet involved). It warns of three specific dangers: swimming unsupervised in the sea; burying broken glass in the sand; and the usual road safety kerb-drill message.
This is the only Tufty film to use music by Carey Blyton. In fact, the music used is The Tufty Club Marching Song, dating from May 1967 and intended for the thousands of very young children who were badge-wearing members of The Tufty Club. Much of the three-minute piece involves singing, but there are also instrumental interludes, and these are used as incidental music within the film itself. A portion of the sung music is played over the final credits.
By coincidence, there’s a Blyton family connection with Tufty: Elsie Mills, Tufty’s creator, was the aunt of Mary Blyton, Carey’s wife.
For interest, the complete audio recording of the song is presented here, along with the words; the film itself follows below.