Bears in hospital help children

Solent Lodge members Alwyn Parsons (left) and Roger Macriner with nurse Jo Foley and patients Wyatt, nine months, and Rose, six months.

St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth has had boxes of toys delivered as well as a hug of teddy bears, thanks to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons.

The toys were replacements for those that had to be thrown out during the Covid pandemic and the teddies help calm children undergoing treatment.

Members of Solent Lodge 6182 that meets in Cosham raised the money and arranged for the bears to be delivered by Teddies for Loving Care (TLC).

TLC is a scheme launched by Freemasons 21 years ago and so far 3.5 million cuddly toys have been distributed to hospitals, police stations and air ambulances.

Youngsters undergoing treatment or experiencing stressful situations find them calming.

Medical staff find the bears useful by helping describe to children what treatments they will be undergoing.

Jo Foley, a dermatology nurse at the hospital, explained that one of the bears she nicknamed Itchy was given to a three-year-old girl whose Eczema would flare up and be very painful.

The little girl’s treatment at the hospital and at home became greatly feared – until she was give Itchy the teddy, whose hand she would hold.

She was encouraged to take the bear home then bring him back – which she did, covered in cream. Itchy the bear had made all the difference.

John Pearson, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, said: “Teddies for Loving Care has been a magnificent success and has helped so many children who always get to keep the toys.

“The money from Solent Lodge also enabled new toys to be bought which makes things easier for children and their parents.

“It is just one small example of the charitable works that our members do in their communities.