The story of Teddy, an old bear belonging to Sue Busby

Teddy in the Edinburgh garden, c.1916

Teddy’s family, the Mackay’s, lived on a rubber plantation, Tebrau Estate (26 miles from Singapore) in what was then called Malaya and is now Malaysia.  In 1915 their first child Norman was born. He wasn’t a very healthy baby and wasn’t thriving in Singapore, so his mother took him to the UK for a few months hoping his health would improve.  They travelled by sea for six weeks on merchant ships. They were torpedoed in the Mediterranean, but mother and baby survived and continued their journey to Scotland, to stay with  Norman’s grandparents, who were retired and living in Edinburgh at this time. Teddy has always been called Teddy and we think he may have been purchased in Edinburgh in 1916.



After a few months in Scotland they took Teddy  to Tebrau in Singapore. This photo shows them in early 1917. Norman is nearly two years old. 

In 1925 the Mackay’s had another child, Ann, known as Andy.  The three photos below show Teddy with Ann at Tebrau, in Scotland, and again at Tebrau. We know that both Norman and Ann were sent to school in Scotland when they were 7 years’ old.  Ann would have left Singapore in 1932 and we think Teddy may well have travelled with her to Scotland.  Ann did not return to Singapore until the Summer of 1940 by which time she would have been 14 years old, so we think Teddy may have stayed with relatives in Scotland.  In January 1941 Ann flew down to Melbourne to go to boarding school and she stayed there until she finished school in 1943 when both she and her mother returned to Scotland.

Scotland, 1929
Tebrau, 1929


Here is Teddy in 1956. Since this time Teddy has always been around my family. In the 1960s he was dressed in the school uniform of Hill House, Doncaster,  where Ann’s third child Donald studied in the 1960’s.


I am another of Ann’s children, Sue.  I took Teddy to the toy hospital in December 2019. Here he is before he was admitted for treatment.

The story of Teddy, a bear belonging to Margaret Forsyth

Teddy was a gift from my parents when I was a few months old. I had two precious toys: Teddy, and a doll called Minnie, who was made from pieces of cloth. She had been made by my grandmother who was a terrific dressmaker, and was passed down to me through the family. She had many embroidered faces over the years. She succumbed to old age when I was around 13.

When I was 12, we moved from the island of Hoy in Orkney to Aberdeen because my father had been promoted in PO Telephones. I was sent to an all girl, superior school where I was made to feel like a peasant among young ladies.

Both Minnie and Teddy helped me so much when I was taken out of my country childhood in Orkney and introduced to a very new and confusing early 1960’s Aberdeen.

When I married I took Teddy with me to Lochaber. My children and grandchildren have all known Teddy and I hope the younger ones will get to know him again. He has been much loved during his existence: in fact, he has been loved to pieces, which is why he needed help from the Toy Hospital.  He needed new paws, a new nose, a new growl and a new tummy. I missed him so much while he was in the toy’s hospital, as did my grandchildren who expected updates every time they visited. I didn’t like to bother the hospital all the time, however. It is so lovely to have him back again!

The story of Ted, a bear belonging to Joyce Cowie

I was given Ted when I was newly born, 56 years ago. He came from a Glasgow toy shop. I remember him lying in my small bed beside me when I was little. As a child, whenever I was sad I’d wind him up and listen to the music of Brahms Lullaby coming from Ted’s tum.  Ted has always been with me: he has lived alongside me in Scotland, London and the USA. I have lovely memories of lying in bed hugging Ted, listening to lovely music putting me to sleep. He needed to visit the hospital because his musical mechanism was broken. Now he can sing me to sleep till the day I die!

Lovely Bear: the Inspiration for Leith Toy Hospital

I first got the idea for Leith Toy Hospital from my own childhood bear, Lovely Bear, who had numerous treatments from my Mum when I was a child. I asked her to tell his story.

“I bought Lovely Bear from a school fair in Creigiau, Cardiff as a present for a friend’s child, but Mari (aged one) spotted me wrapping him up and it was love at first sight. She cried so pitifully when I took him away from her that I persuaded Santa to put him in her stocking at Christmas. When she saw him she cried “Lovely Bear!” and that has been his name ever since.  For the last twenty-nine years, Mari and Lovely Bear have rarely spent a night apart. His original  ‘fur’ was a pink- and blue-spotted Liberty Lawn, which was loved into holes after seven years: the situation became critical when I stupidly put him in the washing machine and he came out in bits! mari was distraught, so I gave him a complete skin graft. Mari chose the new fabric, nad has done so for every subsequent remake. I recover him every few years when his fabric wears through: but Mari still insists that his original covering stays in place underneath. Out of his chrysalis he comes, to emerge as a very different bear. He has modelled navy and orange tie dye, pale turquoise and yellow paisley lawn,  a pink and orange fern-patterned lawn, a very bright pink cotton and a red cotton with orange spots;  his current reincarnation is a multicoloured patchwork fabric. Somehow, although my daughter runs a toy hospital, Lovely Bear is always my job!  He wasn’t only dressed in a new skin periodically: he had a whole wardrobe of clothes. Mari’s favourite was the school uniform I made for him (complete with a tie) to match her own, for a ‘bring your bear to school day’ when she was six. The realisation that many people didn’t have the skills to renovate their special toys led Mari to the idea of starting the toy hospital.

Mari has many memories of Lovely Bear. He has travelled everywhere with her, and still shares the bed with her and her boyfriend. She just can’t sleep without him. Mari says “When I was in hospital when I was 18 he kept falling on the floor and I had to keep ringing the buzzer to get the nurse to come and pick him up, and the nurse said “Oh for goodness sake” which I think was a silly thing to say!” 

A much loved bear in his original skin
Here he is, sporting a natty second skin in 1997.
A navy and pink skin, with co-ordinating clothes knitted by Grandma, 2001
Several skins later, here he is in 2017
29 years old, but looking great in his new 2020 skin.

The story of Angela: a 60-year-old doll belonging to Elaine Chambers

Elaine said “When I was three, I was given a doll for Christmas. I called her Angela: I don’t know why, as I didn’t know any Angelas. She was big, and had curly hair just like my mum’s. She came from Woolworths, in 1961. I took her to bed with me every night, so she helped me through some difficult times. I only had two dolls, Angela and a small one; I had a favourite teddy too. Angela isn’t a very well-travelled doll, but I think I took her to Blackpool where my mum came from. I sent her to the toy hospital for treatment because her eyes were aged and broken, and her hair was going green! Now she lives with my granddaughter, who is delighted to have her back to play with.”

The Story of Ted

Ted: a 56-year-old bear belonging to Mary Gallacher

Mary’s bear Ted visited the toy hospital in April 2020. Mary shared her memories of Ted. She said “Ted was given to me for a Christmas present when I was only four months old, so he has always been there for me. He has helped me through so many difficult times, such as the loss of my grandparents, the ending of my parent’s marriage and my own relationship  breakdown: he has been with me through thick and thin. Ted is very loyal: he won’t talk if you tell him your secrets! Now it is Ted’s turn for a little TLC: he came to the toy hospital for a new arm, some stitching, and a tidy-up. I remember having another cuddly toy called Count Duckular, who I haven’t got any more: but Ted has his home with me forever.”

The Story of Clare

Clare: a doll belonging to Julie Jones

I never liked dolls much as a child (I much preferred marching my plastic farm animals up and down), but one little doll was close to my heart. I called her Clare.

Clare before treatment
Clare with her new eyes

As a child, I always took part in the annual Sunday School anniversary. It was an important event in our calendar. Every child had to perform, either singing a song or reciting a poem, and we always had a new outfit for the occasion. When I was six, my mum made me a new dress, as usual: but this time she made a matching dress for my doll Clare. The fabric was beautiful, a sheer white chiffon with little blue velvet flowers scattered all over it. I never dressed Clare in anything else after that. The photos show me (with my twin brother) wearing my anniversay dress in 1966 and Clare wearing her matching dress in 2020!


I always feel guilty that I only loved the one little doll. My mum was given a big doll called Connie when she was very small. She had carefully looked after her for decades, and was very attached to her. But Connie was too fragile and too valuable for me to play with, so my mum sold her to a toy museum, using the profits to buy me a big doll of my own. I never took to the new doll, and being too young to appreciate the sacrifice my mum had made, I made no effort to play with her: Clare was the only doll for me!

In the 1970s, Clare was sent to a toy hospital to have her broken eyes replaced. When she came back, one eye was very lopsided, and the skin tone didn’t match at all. Clare went into a cupboard and rarely came out again, except to feature as a history exhibit in my infant classes. She recently had a stay at Leith Toy Hospital, and came back with beautiful new eyes, and a ribbon to mask the places where I cut her hair off as a child. She now sits by my desk at home, still much loved.

The story of Champion

Champion – a 75-year-old leather horse belonging to Ali Moir

Ali said “My grandfather served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Egypt in the 1940s, and in 1944/45 he brought home a little leather horse as a present for his five-year-old son (who grew up to be my dad). Dad remembers looking after Champion very carefully; he liked the fact that he had long delicate legs, but could still stand up. Dad named him after ‘Champion, the Wonder Horse’, who was the on-screen companion of Gene Autry and starred in a number of films. These films were shown on television when we were young – it had a catchy theme tune, which we would sing to Champion. The little horse was always around in my childhood – he was more of an ornament than a toy, but my siblings and I played with him often. We were always careful with him. In the future, I am planning to give him to one of my adult daughters. I sent him to the toy hospital because his leather skin had got extremely fragile and split in several places, letting some of the stuffing fall out – I believe he was treated with moisturiser!”

The Story of Paddy

Paddy: a ten-year-old owl belonging to Cathy Mungall-Baldwin

Cathy said: “I bought Paddy from the Oxford University shop in Guildford Grove. I saw him in the window and realised I wasn’t moving on without him. He helped me get through my PhD thesis by looking cute and cuddling me in my flat.   I am a researcher and have lived and worked in the USA and Australia, so he’s lived in both countries. I travel regularly for work and he is quite popular at security as he is often found in my bag by the officers who like to check him out. Paddy has also been to India, Iceland and various other countries. I once left him at a cousin’s in Melbourne Australia by mistake, and my repeated requests to post him back were ignored, as their toddler loved him so much and wasn’t keen to relinquish him. It took a flight to Melbourne to prize him away and bring him home with me (from Sydney, where I was living at the time, not the UK thankfully!) He is a favourite with my friends’ children, and has left many heart-broken when I’ve refused to hand him over for adoption. He also makes even serious academics smile a bit when he has sat on my desk at work in various jobs. He has a look-alike relation who lives in the waiting room of the hydrotherapy pool at the Astlie Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh. Paddy has been to visit and he amuses fellow patients when they sit together. He will be with me till the end 😉 He is my alter ego and suits my sense of sillyness/childness which doesn’t need much of an excuse for an airing, even though I am 43 and work in overseas aid and health research. I am very lucky in having a large imagination and being able to balance academic work with a healthy sense of creativity and sillyness. Paddy is the perfect vehicle for expressing that! I still have lots of toys from my childhood and they all live in my flat. I never saw the need to send them away, poor things.

Paddy is snowy white, but sometimes gets a little grey, so he likes visiting the toy hospital for surface cleaning and a wash and brush-out.


He’s all mine, hands off. Hoot hoot!”

New Face Mask Features Available!

Here at Leith Toy Hospital, designing different types of face masks has been a really interesting and fun new venture for us. We’ve constantly been refining the design of our masks based on customer feedback. We’re very excited to announce some new customisable features that we hope you’re interested in trying out!

Cocktail Masks

Enjoy a drink while wearing a comfortable mask! These masks have a hole in the middle for your straw which is covered by a flap of fabric.

Lip Reading Masks

Perfect for people who want their mouths to be visible, these masks have a clear piece of plastic inserted into the front.

Reading Glasses Buttons

A small button on your mask will keep your reading glasses propped up and secure.

The additional features can be incorporated into any size and design of mask.  When ordering, just select the feature you would like at the check out and we’ll do the rest! All of these masks continue to have the standard features that have made them so popular with customers. They’ve got a wire nose bridge to help shape them around your nose, which helps reduce the amount your glasses steam up. They’ve also got very comfy adjustable ear straps. Pockets are included in each mask so that filters can be inserted if needed.

Have a browse through our different mask designs here.