Teddy bear comfort

COMFORT BEAR: St John ambulance officers Ailsa Philip (left) and Courtney Cannan, with Ashburton Masonic Lodge secretary Andrew Brown, and some of the hundreds of teddy bears used to comfort children.
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Thousands of soft, colourful teddy bears have been helping children in the district in stress or trauma situations.

Given by members of Ashburton Masonic Lodge No1811EC to organisations and services such as St John, Ashburton Police, Victim Support, Ministry of Social Development, Presbyterian Support, and Ashburton Hospital, the bears have been a comfort to children suffering trauma or needing support.

Lodge secretary Andrew Brown said the nationwide project, involving cuddly pink, blue, green and purple 20cm tall bears, were part of the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) project.

It was a venture started by lodge members to celebrate the many years of English Freemasonry, but had continued as a worthwhile project offering comfort to children and a connection with personnel trying to help.

Staff and medical personnel can give the bears to young children at their discretion, he said.

St John Mid Canterbury community engagement co-ordinator Nicola Walker said the bears had proved invaluable to ambulance officers. They were used to calm children down, and reward them for being brave.

Andrew said often the bears distracted children and be used to demonstrate procedures so nurses and doctors could get their jobs done quickly and efficiently.

They had become an invaluable tool and a real comfort for children, he said.