I was given Bobtail for my 5th birthday more than thirty years ago. He came from a card shop called ‘Birthdays’, I believe. I remember how yellow and soft he was. Straight away he became my favourite, and no other toy has ever been able to come close. I have been through many difficult times in my life, and Bobtail has always been there to comfort me. He is so special that he travels everywhere with me, and has been all over the world. He has visited Paris, Spain, Turkey, Poland, Tunisia, New York and Las Vegas. He has been on TV, in a documentary we did for Channel 4. He even came to bed with us on our wedding night! Of course, thirty years of love has led to some wear and tear: he has had his ears stitched back on many times and he has been restuffed. This time when he needed some TLC, I sent him to Leith Toy Hospital, where his eye was replaced, his mouth fixed and his ear was reattached yet again! Bobtail will stay with me forever. Let’s hope there is a nice afterlife for us.
My parents bought Big Ted from Jenners, and gave him to me on the day I was born, so we have always been together. We are 60 now! Ted is in quite good shape for his age, and has never needed repairs before, but since he became a little the worse for wear, I sent him to the toy hospital for some TLC. Ted has been a great comfort to me all my life, and I get emotional when I hold him: toys can evoke deep seated memories of your childhood. I remember playing tea parties with my teddy and my favourite doll. I always took Goldie and baby doll to bed: Goldie was the nickname I gave him. My own children also played with Goldie, and if I am ever blessed with a grandchild, I would love to pass him on.
My big brother John was given Ted for his first Christmas, in 1956. John is seven years older than me. He always allowed me to play with his Ted. One day I decided that he needed underwear, hence the knitted knickers!
Ted has spent most of my life in my parents’ bedroom, sitting on top of the bookcase where my mother kept her special books. (Mum used to be a teacher and was a professional book buyer!) For the last 4 years Ted has spent his days with Mum in a care home, still keeping guard over her most precious books and helping her get through the lockdown. Giving dementias patients a cuddly toy, or doll can often calm them and give them a focus. Although Mum is unable to read much these days, she often cuddled Ted and told him stories and she got upset if she was separated from him. When Ted needed attention at the toy hospital, I temporarily swapped Ted for another bear, so that the real Ted could have his ears, nose and paws repaired.
Ted now enjoys a life of luxury, sitting with a couple of his old friends on an Ercol chair that belonged to my Aunt,.
Qianling said “In 2019 I was travelling across the UK on a road trip, just after graduating, when I spotted Macaron in a shop near a petrol station in the Peak District. He’s a Jellycat tiger. I bought him as a present for my Mum, because her Zodiac animal is a tiger, and she loves soft toys. But after travelling with him for a month, I decided that I couldn’t be parted from him, so I decided not to give him to my mum after all.
Since that first day we have been almost inseparable. In the last two years, he has visited the UK, Turkey, China, and Japan with me. Normally I don’t have any toys because they take up space and I move a lot. I have broken up with partners twice in the past two years, and I also keep changing the country I live in. It has not been easy to make friends in the new environments, but whenever I get home and hug Macaron, I feel that everything is ok again.
Macaron is the first toy that I have ever loved and cared about so much. He is the biggest toy I have ever had, and he is just so white and soft. I can’t stop touching him, because he feels so soft and warm. I am still surprised that I have developed such a strong attachment to him. I think that’s because no matter how the people around me change or leave, Macaron is always there and he always loves me.
I look after Macaron very, very carefully. I try not to leave him alone, because I am afraid that he might get dirty or damaged. We have only been apart for one week, when I went to Shanghai. Normally during travel, I put him in a huge bag to carry separately. But despite my loving care, because I hug him to sleep every day, his waist and limbs have become slimmer and his hair is not as soft as before, so I sent him to the toy hospital for some expert attention. I will take care of Macaron till I die, then I might ask for him to be burnt with me if I can’t find people who can take care of him as well as I do.
We have plenty of time to make memories together. My favourite memory so far is of New Year’s Eve 2020. I put Macaron in my backpack at midnight, and I skated to a temple nearby in Tokyo. We just stood together in the temple listening to the 108 bells, watching people burning papers in the fire to celebrate the new year.
Ted is well over a hundred now. He first belonged to Molly, who was born in 1904, I think. Molly eventually passed him on to her cousin, who was my Mum. One day in 1954, when I was six, my Mum took Ted off her bed and handed him to me. She said “You might as well have him now”. I immediately decided that Ted needed a scarf and, as I was just learning to knit, I made him one straight away. He has worn it ever since. He’s a Black Country bear originally, then he lived on a National Trust Estate in Buckinghamshire. Nowadays he lives with me in a boring bedroom in Milton Keynes but, now that he is stronger, he’ll be able to get out more. He needed help in the toy hospital because I realised that his pirate-style eye patch was scaring my youngest grand-daughter. He lost an eye many years ago (I can’t remember how) and has worn a patch ever since. As soon as I realised that she was scared of Ted, I removed the patch, sat her on my knee and explained all about Ted and his great age. He immediately became “the cherished one”, but I realised then that he wasn’t in a fit state for all the cuddles. He is old and decrepit, and needed a full overhaul in order to withstand the loving attentions of my young grandchildren. I took off his scarf before sending him to the hospital, but he is of course wearing it again now! He has helped me through many difficult times, and is stuffed full of tears and secrets. Ted represents the strength and continuity of my wonderful family and one day, he will belong to my grand-daughter Juliet, who is now 4.
Lisa says “I was given Zinni Bear just after my fourth birthday, in the year 2000. I had a favourite toy called Bunny, who wore a tartan dress. I had Bunny since birth, but I lost him on the teacup ride at Disneyland Paris. On the ferry on the way home, I saw Zinni Bear, and I was given him as a replacement. Zinni Bear filled my heart with so much joy when I saw him on the boat: he was small, with a welcoming expression and very soft fur.
He’s had many adventures. He’s had so many tears and holes: he even had his head torn off after I took him to school and my classmates made fun of him. He’s been left at a hotel in Scarborough and the owners sent him back to our address and wrote “enclosed, one very loved bear.” He has travelled everywhere with me: to Paris, Spain, Florida, Switzerland, The Canary Islands, Germany (several times), Cyprus, Italy, Malta, Tunisia, Greece and many more places. My grandma used to make him clothes and he always wore Angalena Ballerina Clothes!
He will always be my best boy, I can’t sleep without him even at 25 years old!”
Gillian says “I was given Humpty on Christmas day 1982, when I was three and a half. Santa brought Humpty, along with a Paddington Bear and his Aunt Lucy- my sister & I must have been very good that year! My mum still talks about that Christmas day – I had to be woken up because I was ill. Even now, I still get up at silly o’clock on Christmas Day so something was definitely wrong! I love looking at the old pictures- seeing all our gifts and thinking about our grandparents. I remember being told not to be rough with him. I’m assuming he was very expensive: he’s a pretty snazzy guy. We were so lucky growing up; it felt like we had everything. It’s only now, as an adult, that I know of the money worries my parents had when they were younger.
I had a favourite teddy who went everywhere with me (he sometimes had his own adventures too, when he got lost). But Humpty was too posh for that; he stayed indoors. He’s always been well looked after, and hasn’t needed any repairs till now: but the moths have had their wicked way with his felt bits. Most of my childhood toys are still in our parents’ loft, but Humpty still lives on a shelf in my living room. Now that everyone knows Humpty is getting a makeover, we’re going to have a day, post covid, of sorting through our old toys. I can’t wait to rediscover the memories!”
Jean’s grand-daughter Hannah Hobbs says “I have got the story of Rosemary Doll (Dolly Hobbs). My Grandma Jean Moss, is 87 years old and thinks she was about 8 when she was given a dolly in December, either for her birthday or for Christmas. She called her Rosemary.
In Plymouth during the war, there were lots of air raids in the night. Jean’s father was in the army in Worchester. He decided that his wife Edna and daughters Sandra and Jean needed a break from the many sleepless nights spent in the bomb shelter, so he booked them one night in a room on a farm, close to his base in Worchester.
The next morning, they heard that their home had been hit by an incendiary bomb, which had set everything alight. Jean’s mother headed straight back to Plymouth. When she arrived, the house was still smouldering, but she still crawled in to see what possessions she could save. There was very little. She found my Grandma Jean’s dolly, which was badly cracked all over, and Sandra’s blackboard which was burnt on one side; for herself she found only a night dress.
When she returned from Plymouth, you can imagine how upset the children were that all their possessions had been destroyed; but my grandma was so pleased to have her dolly back. She vowed to keep her forever, despite her damages.
Until recently, she has been in a box in my grandma’s bedroom, kept safe. When she had her room redecorated, she decided that she wanted to put Rosemary on display, so her younger sister, Linda, made her a new outfit and bonnet, and she has been sat on a chair by her tv.
My grandma has always said that she would like her to be mended so that she isn’t so floppy. So one day I decided that I would look into getting her fixed. I found Leith Toy Hospital and sent her off!
My grandma is very excited to get her back as she has missed her.
Marie said: “In 1965, when I was nine, we lived in Netherlee, Outside Glasgow. My father spent time working in Minsk in Russia, and I remember him giving me a present one day: a Russian doll. She is a beautiful doll but thankfully I had already outgrown dolls, otherwise she would not be around today. She has a soft body and upper arms/legs while the rest is made of some harder material, and she is still wearing Russian-style clothing. Another favourite toy I remember was a dolls house that I was given when I was four, but that has been lost, probably in a house move.
Vasilisa has always stayed with me. She moved to Garlieston,D+G with me when I was halfway through S2, and helped me settle at Edinburgh University from 1973-1977. When I moved to Dalbeattie as a teacher in 1977 and then to Dumfries from 1978-1983, Vasilisa came too. We moved to Holywood outside Dumfries in 1983 and we are still there. I have now retired and I am planning to relocate to Edinburgh at Leopold Place, therefore I plan to bring Vasilisa to Leith Toy hospital for repair when necessary. My grandmother who lives in Prestonpans took her to the toy hospital recently so that her eyes could be mended; her lower arm also needs fixing. In the future, I plan to will Vasilisa to my granddaughter, Sylvia.
Victoria says “Thank you so much to The Leith Toy Hospital and especially Emma the Teddy Surgeon. I contacted the hospital during Covid-19, thinking we would have to wait till after pandemic to have Lammy looked at. Lammy is my son’s bestest friend; due to his Autism he does not adapt to change well and needs Lammy with him 24/7. When I explained this the hospital were so accommodating and had him picked up and dropped off same day. Despite the fact that Emma can work wonders on toys, all we needed was internal work and some stitching to reinforce his seams (Lammy is sometimes used as an anger toy, so he takes some punishment.) The work was done speedily and without question. Thank you Emma so much for being – well – just awesome…. He looks a millions times better and will last for years to come 🙂
My Son says the best thing about Lammy is how cute he is ”