The story of Zinni Bear: a bear belonging to Lisa Goodwin.

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!”

The story of Humpty, who belongs to Gillian Brand

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!”

The story of Rosemary, a doll belonging to Jean Moss

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.

The story of Vasilisa, a doll belonging to Marie Weir

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. 

The story of Lammy, a lamb sent to the toy hospital by Victoria McAlpine

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 ”

The story of Suzy, a doll belonging to Clare Wilkinson

The story of Suzy, a doll belonging to Clare Wilkinson

Clare says “When I was 2 years old my parents split up and my Mum decided to move back to Ireland to be with her mother, my Nan. My Mum got a job at an insurance company and became very friendly with a lady called Betty, who was in her fifties at the time. She had no family and used to come to ours for tea. She became like a second grandmother to me and was always bringing me presents.

One day when she came for tea shesaid she had a special present for me: Suzy.  She told me that Suzy was already an old doll, who had been given to Betty when she was a little girl. I was a thrilled, mainly because she was black: I had never had a black doll before and I don’t think they were very common at the time. She became my forever friend.

I am 61 years old now so Suzy must be well over a hundred. She has had many outfits over the years. She has been everywhere with me … she came to university, and she has shared every house I have ever lived in. However, in my last house she was left in the loft for protection, because her arms, legs and head were all broken.

Five years ago, I moved to an old farmhouse just outside of Newcastle and she became part of my life again, living in my bedroom. However, she looked awful, as she is  so badly damaged, and my grand children didn’t like her. They thought she was scary, because her eyes rolled into the back of her head and her head rolled round.

With Covid we decided to do out the stables that were attached to the house. We have made into another room where I do my Yoga and my husband does a gym session. It’s very cozy and Suzy lives in the rafters where she looks down on us. I had to put her somewhere safe!

                                                                      I decided then that she needed to be fixed!!

So here she is at Leith Toy Hospital waiting to be mended. She is now in the capable hands of Kate who tells me she had a voice box that I didn’t know about, which also controls her legs and arms. It has obviously not worked for years, so that needs to be fixed! There can be no price on Suzy: she is my pride and joy, and over the years she has given me great pleasure.

I have a new dress waiting at home for her and a new band for her head.

I would like to think that when I pass my grand children will take her and look after her.

Thank you Kate at Leith Toy Hospital for taking on this project.”

The story of Polie, a polar bear belonging to Tobias Miller

Tobias says: “Polie was given to me by my grandma on the day I was born in 1993. My earliest memory of him is that he lost his eye under the foundations of my family home’s extension when I was very young. He has been a one-eyed bear even since, and I wouldn’t change that.

His primary communication method was to whisper in my ear, as only I could understand him. He went with me on the first day of school, where I accidentally dropped him in the mud, and I cried (establishing my macho reputation among all the other kids).

Sylvester the stuffed cat (of Looney Toons fame) was my brother’s counterpart to Polie, and he was Polie’s nemesis. Sylvester was responsible for all the damage ever done to Polie – but retaliation also came poor Sylvester’s way (even once having his head put down the loo). Luckily a truce emerged in our teenage years, though Polie still bears some scars. Once Polie was even decapitated in the seemingly endless war my brother and I had against each other’s stuffed toys. Historically he’s had about every repair you could think of! Grandma carried out repairs for the first twenty years, and I took over almost ten years ago. Sadly, my skills are poor and so Polie had several holes which were beyond my skill to fix. After a lifetime of repairs, he had also lost a considerable amount of stuffing. Now he has had patches and seam repairs at the toy hospital. My Grandma, now into her 90’s (though if you ask, she will tell you she’s 35) is almost as happy as I am with Polie being repaired. She wishes she could have done it herself, but age has snuck up on her.

 

Polie has been with me through the good times and the bad times, happy and sad – a constant of my life, even with me the morning of my wedding in 2019. Up until recently, I tended to take him on nearly every trip I made – from more local countries such as France, Spain, Portugal to places as far out as Japan, so he is quite possibly one of the more extensively-travelled polar bears out there.

He even once made a trip without me! When I was still young, about 8 years old, we had driven down to the south of France for a family holiday. On the final day, my parents were checking out of the hotel while my brother and I were fighting as usual at a table nearby. My parents quickly ushered us out and into the car – unbeknownst to me, Polie was still sat at the table, probably waiting for someone to bring him breakfast. I didn’t realise until we were almost back in England that he was gone. My parents did call the hotel, but the staff had changed over and they didn’t know anything of it.

I cried for two weeks, utterly heartbroken. One morning however, a package for me showed up in the post. It wasn’t Christmas or my Birthday, and I was too young to have discovered the evils of online shopping, so I had no idea what (or who) it would be. It turned out that a lady from Manchester had seen us leaving, before noticing that Polie had been unintentionally left behind. She scooped him up and went to the reception desk to ask for our surname and address (obviously GDPR would never allow this now!) With our name and address in hand, she took Polie all the way back to Manchester with her, before kindly proceeding to carry out some repairs of her own (my poor bear did go through the wars early on). Repairs complete, she boxed him up and sent him off, together with a lovely letter to me apologizing for the fact she couldn’t find the correct eye to give him!

I was overjoyed; and to this day I often think on the kindness shown by this complete stranger to me. I will be forever grateful to her for reuniting us.

 

Polie will now be having a few quiet months to recover, nestled on my bed. However, when the world reopens after Covid, I’m sure his adventurous side will take hold and we’ll be exploring again!

The story of Rupert, a bear who lives with Robert Watson.

Rupert when he arrived at the hospital

Robert said “Rupert arrived uninvited to my house – a first floor tenement flat in Bread Street, Edinburgh – at Christmas in 1949, when I was two months old. I don’t know where he came from: he arrived unexpectedly and never left. He rang the bell and when my dad opened the door, he looked left and right but could see no one. When Dad looked down, Rupert was standing there looking up at him and the little bear asked “Does Bobby Watson live here?”. When he was told “yes”, he walked between my dad’s legs into the flat, and climbed into my cot beside me. And that was the last time he ever spoke.

Rupert likes to stay at home. He left Edinburgh with me in 1957 and only returned recently, to go to the hospital in 2019. He came to the hospital to have some love and attention on his 70th birthday. He needed four new paw pads, two new eyes, a new nose and mouth, a new squeaker, some patches and seam repairs, as well as surface cleaning.

Rupert has been with my family for so long that I think of him as a member of the family. He was passed onto my children and will be passed onto future generations. My son is currently writing Rupert’s biography!”

Rupert ready to go home to his family

The story of Billy, a Panda belonging to Jane Evans

Jane says: “I was given Billy Panda in 1956, when I was five or six, by the teenage son of a neighbour. Billy had been his toy but he had out grown him. I remember being given Billy and immediately falling in love with him.

By the time I got to my late teens, Billy was very much the worse for wear due to many years of hugs and love. He was built on a metal frame and his right arm had worn to such an extent that he had a hook instead of a paw! At some point he had been (badly) repaired and had been stitched up the middle with red thread which made it look like he’d got a big red scar on his tummy. Although he stayed with me, he was relegated to a toy box until 2020, when he went on a visit to Leith Toy Hospital. He needed extensive surgery:  Pawdiotry; Furmatology; Bear, Nose and Throat and Internal Tedicine It’s lovely to have him back in my bedroom now!”

The story of Jane Bride, a doll belonging to Helen Powell

Helen and Jane Bride in the garden, August 1966

Helen says: “I spotted this doll in a toy shop window in Wimbledon, just before Christmas 1965, when I was five. She was dressed in a cream bridal dress, and there was something about her which appealed to me as soon as I saw her. I didn’t dare think that she would be there on Christmas morning, but there she was, under the tree! From then on, she was always my close companion My two younger sisters always liked her but she always stayed in my care. She even accompanied me on all our early childhood holidays to Yorkshire, to the Norfolk Broads and to the South Coast.

My grandmother was a trained seamstress and made many amazing clothes for her which I still have. All were beautifully hand sewn and finished to a very high standard. you can see some photos below. The jacket and blouse were made by hand with lovely detail including the “gold” buttons, and the dress with the jewel was a replacement dress for the rather inferior dress in which the Bride doll was dressed when my parents bought her!

She has been treasured and loved but is now having some essential repairs. Her eyes had not shut properly for some time so needed replacing. Her hair also needed attention, and she needed a good clean! I have one granddaughter who may inherit her one day., but now she is repaired, she has a place in my house where she can be admired.”