Comfort teddy bears scheme for poorly children reaches 80,000 landmark

Freemasons of Durham hand out TLC bears at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust's A&E department.
Freemasons of Durham hand out TLC bears at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust's A&E department.

The 80,000th cuddly bear handed to poorly children in hospital by Freemasons has been given out at a hospital.

For more than a decade Freemasons from the Durham province have been supplying TLC (Teddy Loving Care) bears to A&E departments and walk-in centres throughout the boundaries of their area.

The purpose of the teddy is to alleviate the distress of children attending hospital following what is normally a traumatic experience.

It also acts as a distraction and allows the person treating the child valuable time to carry out what they need to do, sometimes even treating the teddy first to show the child that everything will be OK.

Children are able to take the cuddly teddies home with them after they leave, a luxury the trust would not have without the donations.

At a recent visit to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s A&E Paediatric Department at their Stockton hospital, the Provincial Grand Master for Durham Freemasons, Norman Eric Heaviside, accompanied by local Freemasons, met up with some of the staff who use these bears on a daily basis.

While visiting, the party presented the 80,000th TLC Bear to Alex Glover, a young girl admitted to the A&E at the time of the visit.

Duncan Maw, who has recently taken over the management of the initiative said: “All the A&E staff love the teddies as they can really help them carry out their vital work and all kids love teddies.

“It’s a simple and effective way to distract children from their illness and something we as a province are extremely proud of being part of.”

Debbie Hall, paediatrics lead nurse in accident and emergency at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The children we see in our department are often very distressed and upset – these teddy bears really help us to calm them down and assess their needs as soon as possible.

“We are really grateful to Freemasons of Durham for donating so many of these toys bears over the last decade.

“It makes a real difference to all of the children who visit us, as well as the staff on the department.”