Moyra told us “My husband was given a toy rabbit when he was a new-born. The bunny, called Bun-Bun, has been with him ever since. I decided to get Bun-Bun treated at the toy hospital as a Christmas surprise for my husband. Now his missing ear has been replace,he has had a good wash and brush, and his little pink nose and mouth have been embroidered again. He looks very smart with his new bow!”
Wendy told us “Winifred was a lockdown surprise. We discovered her in a trunk while we were all shut away at home. She was in a sorry state. Her traditional Welsh clothes needed a wash and mend, but there was no moth damage. Her face was stained, her fingers and toes were broken and her limbs were very loose. She would not have survived much longer. She had been asleep for a long, long time: she had belonged to a family of five girls living in North Wales in Victorian times; she is at least 120 years old. At Leith Toy Hospital, Winifred has had a facial, a manicure and pedicure, and orthopaedic surgery, and now she is ready for another hundred years.”
“Well over a hundred years ago, my great-grandparents bought a baby doll for their little son, Robert Laver March, from a shop in Glastonbury. Robert passed the doll to his new granddaughter (me!) in 1949, when I was just two weeks old. The doll was called Baby John, and he used to sit on a chair in my bedroom. My granny made Baby John a green checked romper suit out of an old dress. I didn’t think that was good enough for my Baby John, so I persuaded her to give me one of the family christening gowns. You can see it in the photo. My granny didn’t value this gown: she let me have it because it had been made by Auntie Bet, who wasn’t a good seamstress! I still have the best family christening gown; even now I wouldn’t dare put it on a doll!
Baby John has shared everything in my life the good, the bad, the happy and the sad. The only time Baby John and I have been apart was when I was a student. When I was away at college my lovely old faithful dog used to steal Baby John each night and take him to bed with him!! My Mum was less than pleased.
As you can see, Baby John has a beautiful head. He came to the toy hospital because his head was badly cracked and damaged and some of his body was in dire need of patching up. I missed him so much when he was away; I didn’t realised how much I talk to him! I will never let him go away again.”
Ramandeep Jhutti told us about her toy Po.
Po is 25 years old this year. I was 5 years old when I got Po, in October/November 1997 part of the first ever release of Teletubbies soft toys. My Dad queued a long time in the cold weather at Mothercare World as part of the Christmas rush – they were selling out very fast. When my Dad first got Po, my sister who is 16 months younger than me wanted a Teletubbie of her own! So my Dad got her Laa-Laa. Like typical sibling behaviour she liked my Po. My sister still has Po now so Po still has her friend Laa-Laa to keep her company. I don’t have a very first memory but I do remember taking her to junior school with me. After 24 years of lots of cuddles she had become very fragile and needed repairing. For example her antenna become very floppy and started to show thinning in some area’s. Before sending her to Leith Toy Hospital, my grandad and sister had a go repairing her feet. Po has been with me everywhere, when I moved to university or locations within the UK. I made sure never to take her oversea’s. Po has been a constant comfort to me, looked after me when I was little right up to now. I would like Po to be passed down to the next generation of my family.
Julia told us the story of these fascinating dolls. “These dolls were made in the 1960s by Innuit people who were in hospital in Canada, suffering from TB. These TB hospitals were just for the Innuit population. The Innuit dolls are a reminder of the fact that the European settlers to Canada bought new diseases which had very serious consequences, because the Innuits lacked immunity. I am not sure how the Innuit community feels about these institutions and the projects which resulted in the production of these dolls. The dolls were given to me when I was 12 and living in Ottawa, Canada. They were a gift from a neighbour who worked in the Department of Northern Affairs, Canada. They used to sit on a bookcase in my bedroom, and have since lived with me in both Canada and the UK. The Innuit man had the fur on his hood eaten by moths, so the dolls have been to the toy hospital for some TLC.”
Julia told us Ted’s story. “Ted was made in England during World War 2. He was handmade, probably by someone in the village in Devon where my mum was living. He was given to my brother when he was a toddler, and when he later rejected him, I inherited him in 1946, when I was one. In 1951,when I was 5, I took him to Canada, tucked up in my suitcase. We were visiting my grandparents; we later settled in Ottowa. Ted came with me to university in Vancouver, then lived in London with me at LSE. We next lived in Singapore for a year, before moving to Canada again, then London and Devon. Finally we settled in Edinburgh. I have many memories of packing him for travel then finding Ted a place to sit in our new home: he always helped me to settle in and feel at home.
I made Ted a new suit of clothes thirty or forty years ago, and replaced a lost ear. Unfortunately, Ted was attacked by moths, so he needed to visit Leith Toy Hospital for some expert care.”
Ian said: “I first met The Bear with No Name when I was about seven. He belonged to my mum, who was given him as a birthday present in the 1950s. When we were children, my brother and sister and I were allowed to play with him and listen to his music, or to his voice as he sang to us. We had a rapidly-changing life, and moved every year from one town to another. Bear lived in Yorkshire, Suffolk, Warwickshire, Berkshire and London before finally settling in Buckingham. He was a steady influence throughout it all. Since my mum died, he has stayed in a cupboard along with other treasured memories. But he was a treasured companion and the only link I have to my Mother who supported me and my brother through a lonely childhood, so I sent him to the toy hospital for some TLC. We had played with him too many times, and he had lost his voice: he is 65 now! Bear can rest easy now: my son knows his history and will safeguard him forever.”
Wendy said: “When she was a child in the 1950s, my mum was given a doll for Christmas. Dollie was the last doll in the shop: Mum’s two sisters never got a moving doll of their own! When I was little, I was occasionally allowed to see Dollie and wind her up once or twice, but she was soon put away again for safe keeping. For the last thirty years, she has been wrapped in a bag in the drawer, in bits. Her arms and head needed to be re-attached, and her poor legs needed to be reset then reattached. My mum never thought she could be fixed. It is so wonderful to see her standing and moving again!”
In 1957, my dad was on National Service in Cyprus. He was given compassionate leave to come home when I was born. He brought me a very special present: a little teddy, which contained a musical box that played the tune ‘Mary had a little lamb’. Teddy cost £5, which was a lot of money in those days. The shop owner let him pay off a little each week, so dad was able to afford him. My first clear memory of Teddy is winding him up all by myself when I was 5: my mum was Mary, and I was her little lamb. I remember some of my other favourite childhood toys too. I had a wonderful Silver Cross twin pram and twin dolls who I called Scott and Gary. When I outgrew this it was crated up and sent to my cousins in Zambia; they enjoyed it for many years, taking it to Canada when they moved. Teddy has been to Canada too: he came with my husband and I when we emigrated to Canada in 1977. We were very homesick, so we all came back home to the UK in 1978. Teddy has always been a constant in my life and just looking at him brings back happy memories. I now have great pleasure watching my grandchildren’s faces when they play with Teddy, although they are only allowed to hold him when I am with them.I have always been very careful with Teddy. When I was a child, he always sat safely on a shelf above my bed. I often took him down for cuddles, but I always felt he was very special, so no-one else was allowed to play with him. That’s probably why he is still in great condition. Many years ago a family friend who makes teddy bears repaired his nose and ear, and that is all the repair he has needed. Unfortunately, his music box stopped working recently, so I sent him to the toy hospital. He looks amazing now. His music box is playing again and he has had a clean. Sadly, ‘Mary had a little lamb’ is no longer available, so he now plays ‘When you wish upon a star’.
He is very precious to me because my dad bought him and sacrificed some of his wages every week to buy him for me. My dad is no longer with us, so Teddy is even more important to me. His story will be passed on to my grandchildren and I hope he stays in the family forever. Thank you so much to everyone at Leith Toy Hospital for taking such amazing care of Teddy.
Pamela said: “I was given Stewart on the day I was born, 2 days before Christmas in 1957. Most of my childhood toys are long gone, but I still have two special ones: Stewart the teddy and a doll called Iris, who has a pink dress and brown eyes like me. She needs repairing too, as her leg is damaged. I remember lots of my childhood toys: aTriang pedal car with lights that worked, a push-along metal fire engine, a cotton Wendy house, and various bikes.
Teddy’s first flight was to Southern Ireland when I was about 6. My children took him to France on holiday, too. I played with Stewart so much that by the time I was ten he needed repairing. With the help of my mum, I patched his paws with blue material , and gave him button eyes (I must have lost his original eyes). When I grew up, I allowed my own children to play with him, and now my two grandchildren use him in their games. Although he is now 63, Stewart is always up for a game. He goes on trains, fits in a doll’s buggy and even played a part in a re-enactment of ‘Room on the Broom’, taking the part of the cat. I always meant to have him properly repaired, but I never got round to it. During the COVID lockdown, when I had more time, I googled the toy hospital and decided that it was time to have him professionally repaired. I hope that, in time, Stewart will be loved by my other grandchildren. One day I hope he will be passed down to future generations, to be played with and loved for years to come.”