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.

Leith Toy Hospital helping local community during lockdown

Here at Leith Toy Hospital we’ve been helping keep the community cheerful during lockdown, with our window displays, and by sewing scrubs for the NHS. 

The Big Bear Hunt – the worldwide trend of putting a bear in your window for children to spot on their daily walks – resonated with the staff at the Leith Toy Hospital! We decided to create a window display of our bears, toys, dolls and puppets, so they can see out of the window and wave at the passers-by on the street! 
The window now features a different selection of teddies every day, as well as toys dressed up as doctors and nurses! 

Teddy Window Display

Along with so many others we’ve been reading in the news about the shortages of protective equipment faced by the NHS. Here at the Toy Hospital, we wanted to try and help our friends out over at the human hospital. 
We came across an initiative called ‘for the love of scrubs’ who are recruiting sewers to make scrubs for NHS Scotland staff. We wanted to help, so we’ve turned our sewing machines to the task. They also have a Go Fund Me page set up, where you can donate. out

We were very pleased that both the Edinburgh Reporter, and the Edinburgh Evening News picked up on what we’ve been up to! 

Article in Edinburgh Reporter

If you’re passing Constitution St on your daily constitutional, then remember to look out for the toys in the window, and give them a wave! 

And if you’re very lucky – some children have been finding teddies in plant pots on the Toy Hospital steps with “I’m looking for a loving new home” labels around their necks. If you find one you can take them home!

Teddy looking for a new home

Toy Hospital Top Tips

hospital nurse

Here at the Leith Toy Hospital we are always very careful with health and hygiene. In the present climate, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of nurse Nancy’s best advice. We wanted to make a serious set of guidelines from the W.H.O become a little less scary for children and their toys.

Take Your Temperature

thermometer temperature

Remember to keep a close eye on your temperature so that you know straight away if you develop a fever. Hold the thermometer under your tongue for one minute, or use an ear thermometer. It’s great if you can practice doing this yourself, or with a friend.

Keep Your Distance!

keep your distance

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus.

Be Prepared

be prepared with supplies

A lot of our senior bears are over seventy or have underlying health issues. Therefore, make sure you have medical supplies at the ready. Above all, be prepared!

Stay Informed if self isolating

stay informed teddy

Keep up to date with the latest news from the World Health Organization. Find out what steps you and your toys need to practice because of the virus to say as safe and snuggly as possible.

Sneeze Into Your Elbow

clown sneezing into sleeve

Help your toys stop spreading the virus any further. Teach them to sneeze into their sleeves. Dispose of tissues carefully, consequently reducing spread of infection.

Stay Connected With Social Media

barbie waving on skype

If you cannot visit friends in person due to isolation, use skype to have a chat and keep up morale. A web chat Wednesday could certainly help relieve boredom. Why not have a virtual teddy bears picnic!

Don’t Listen To Gossip

gossip teddies

Finally, try not to worry too much because it can rub off on others. Ignore any scary stories you may hear. If we all help each other by being positive. Talk with your toys nicely, and they will be similarly calm and content whilst we wait for brighter days.

We hope you have enjoyed our Toy Hospital Top Tips! follow us on Facebook

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for more child friendly posts in the future. Finally, stay safe!

Toy Hospital Top Tips March 2020

Leith Toy Hospital’s Oral History Project

Many of the toys that come in to Leith Toy Hospital have wonderful stories connected to them, and all of them have special significance to the people they belong to. We’re collecting stories of beloved toys so that they can be preserved and shared. We’re going to create a blog, and eventually an exhibition, with photographs of the toys before and after repairs alongside their stories. We would love to have any toy hospital patients and their families participate, but it’s completely optional.

We have a simple form with some questions about your toy’s history- you can answer as many or as few questions as you like. If you’d like to tell us your toy’s story, we now have a form on our website, or you can pop in and fill one out in person in our Edinburgh workshop.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 5 files.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Junk Rescue Teddy Repair

Teddy Repair on Junk Rescue by Mari and Emma at Leith Toy Hospital

You can now watch Leith Toy Hospital in Action on TV! Leith Toy Hospital was featured in an episode of Junk Rescue for CBeebies. Mari and Emma were filmed repairing the Junk Rescue teddy alongside Danny Sebastian.

You can watch us fixing the Junk Rescue Teddy here!

Danny Sebastian from Junk Rescue spent a day here at Leith Toy Hospital along with a film crew. They filmed us fixing up a broken teddy with a new arm, a new eye, a restuff and a foot repair.

Junk Rescue Teddy Repair at Leith Toy Hospital

Every episode of Junk Rescue, the team visits a different British craftsperson in their place of work and demonstrates their unique way of upcycling unwanted items. It was really cool to see first hand how a TV programme is made and how much goes in to filming each frame. The film crewe spent a total of 8 hours at Leith Toy Hospital, and there were about 6 people working on it. We had to film every frame multiple times.

The Junk Rescue teddy was in good company – tens of broken teddies and dolls are admitted to Leith Toy Hospital each week for a huge variety of ailments. Our treatments include joint replacements, new paw pads, restuffing, new eyes and much more! Find out more about our available toy repairs here.

At Leith Toy Hospital, Mari, Emma and their team restore both modern and antique dolls, teddies, rocking horses, jack in the boxes and more. The range of different toys that come in to us never ceases to fascinate us, and we’re learning new things every day.