Tufty Fluffytail is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA’s) iconic red squirrel who was instrumental in helping millions of children to learn about road safety from the 1950s-1990s.
Created in 1953 by Elsie Mills MBE, who worked on child safety initiatives at RoSPA, Tufty helped to communicate simple safety messages to children across the UK.
In 1961, his influence was cemented through the formation of the Tufty Club – a nationwide network of local road safety groups for children. At its peak, there were 24,500 registered Tufty Clubs, with membership passing two million children in 1972.
Although focusing on road safety education, Tufty and his Furryfolk friends, including Policeman Badger, Willy Weasel, Minnie Mole and Mrs Owl, also made forays into other areas of child safety, including home and water safety.
Story books, TV fillers (some voiced by Bernard Cribbins), comics, board games, handkerchiefs, jigsaw puzzles, stickers, colouring books, Christmas cards, soft toys, ceramic figures, puppets, toothbrushes, mealtime sets, knitting patterns, nightwear fabric and song sheets were among the items that helped to maintain Tufty’s profile.
Tufty’s image was changed to keep up with the times in 1979 and again in 1993, before new methods of helping children to learn about road safety came to the fore. In 2007, Tufty once again rose to national prominence when he made a guest appearance in the cult BBC series Life on Mars.
Reproductions of vintage Tufty posters are available at https://www.rospaprints.com and Tufty artwork also features in Safety First, a beautiful coffee-table book by Paul Rennie.
More information is available on Rospa's vintage safety posters webpage.
Thank you to Rospa for this information - find out more: https://www.rospa.com/about/history/tufty