9 March 2017
A charity that donates cuddly toys to distressed children at Leighton Hospital is celebrating a milestone.
Cheshire Freemasons launched their Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme for Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the hospital, 12 years ago.
Since then more than 22,000 children have received free cuddly bears at the Trust’s sites, which also include Victoria Infirmary in Northwich.
Money for the plush toys is raised by the Freemasons’ volunteers who then deliver them to A&Es across Cheshire.
Staff in Leighton Hospital’s Emergency Department give the teddies to children who are in distress and where it is felt a toy to cuddle can alleviate that distress.
Jo Rimmer, Service Coordinator for A&E’s reception, organises the delivery of the cuddly toys for the hospital.
She said: “The bears offer great comfort to our younger patients.
“Some are distributed in our minor injuries unit and they’re used to reassure children by demonstrating treatments they may have, such as a sling or bandaging. The children get to take them home, too.
“They offer a positive distraction during what can be an unsettling time and we’re so thankful to the Freemasons for their ongoing support.”
Neil Eaton, TLC Coordinator for Cheshire, added: “Children tend to form a bond with the teddy because of the circumstances in which they are received and will bring them back to hospital with them if they have to return.”
Neil joined Freemason and volunteer Mike Bentley to deliver the latest batch of bears in February along with TLC colouring in sheets, which will be used to entertain and occupy those who use children’s waiting area in A&E.
The delivery of 144 bears is just one of hundreds that the Freemasons have made in Cheshire since 2004 and of the thousands that have been made across the country.
Together, 1.9 million bears have been distributed all over England, Ireland, Wales and parts of Scotland.
The TLC appeal was originally launched in Essex in 2001 after the wife of a Freemason suffered from an allergic reaction, which caused the swelling and blocking of her windpipe.
Her life was saved by the rapid action of A&E staff who were able to resuscitate and stabilise her. She found the experience the most frightening of her life and it led her to speculate on the distress that children must face when visiting emergency departments.
The TLC scheme was born after she discussed the idea of helping A&Es with other Freemasons and it has since been adopted by most Masonic provinces across the country.