Brenda’s teddies keep memory of loved ones alive

Brenda Johnstone with some of her bears. Picture: Mike Day

Brenda Johnstone with some of her bears. Picture: Mike Day

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BRENDA Johnstone’s house is full of teddy bears, but each one is destined for a home where it will be more cherished than almost any other.

She has sewn dozens of personalised memory bears, using clothing given to her by families who have lost loved ones.

I lost my own dad when I was 11 years old so I know the feelings and wanted to help

Brenda Johnstone

Her remarkable creations provide special comfort to their families, who can keep them close forever.

Among them are the family and friends of tragic teenager Jak Trueman from West Calder, who died aged 15 in February after a brave fight with cancer, and the wife and three children of the late press photographer Gordon Jack from Linlithgow.

Brenda, from Livingston, quit her 22-year job as an IT test manager to put her “heart and soul” into sewing the unique bears.

Working from home, she set up Tip2Toe in Fabric in April. She has spent every day since carefully transforming favourite garments into teddies.

Brenda, 48, said: “I always had a sewing machine but my job had become so demanding I no longer had time to sew.

“I made my first bear after I lost my uncle late last year. I made a cushion out of one of his shirts for my aunt and a teddy for my cousin’s son.

“I lost my own dad when I was 11 years old so I know the feeling and wanted to help.

“Everyone deals with grief in different ways but we all like to have something to cuddle in to.”

Jak’s mum Allison Barr, 44, said her son’s favourite clothes had been made into bears and cushions for his friends.

She said: “Brenda made a beautiful love-heart cushion out of one of Jak’s T-shirts and stitched on his favourite logos. It’s stunningly beautiful. When Jak died quite a few of his friends got his T-shirts and quite a number had bears made from them in different colours.”

Mr Jack, 47, passed away in April after becoming ill while covering tennis star Andy Murray’s wedding preparations in Dunblane.

Brenda took his shorts, T-shirt and jacket and lovingly transformed them into three teddies for his children Emily, 11, Sam, 15, and Megan, 17.

Gill said: “The bears Brenda made from Gordon’s clothes are just amazing.

“The kids were struck dumb and just couldn’t believe it. Emily’s eyes just filled with tears.

“She’s done an amazing job and the bears will be treasured forever.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com