ComforTEDs project for bereaved parents boosted by US donation

Lesley Anderson with her ComforTEDs and new machine. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Lesley Anderson with her ComforTEDs and new machine. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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A BIG-HEARTED woman who handmakes small teddy bears for bereaved families has been overwhelmed by the generosity of an American company.

For the past two years Lesley Anderson has cut out the felt shapes for her ComforTEDs by hand before stuffing and sewing the bears together.

I have had people who have lost babies and they keep the other bear in a memory box. It helps them to feel they have a connection with their child.

Lesley Anderson

She has stitched 1400 bears since starting up the not-for-profit venture, which was set up in memory of her son Chris Bullions, who was stillborn 28 years ago at 29 weeks.

As demand for the ComforTED increased, Lesley realised she needed to be more efficient and started looking for a die-cutting machine.

She said: “I approached a company in the UK and they said I needed a die cutter made.

“It had to be the right shape and right size and everything, so they suggested I contact the US head office which makes custom dies.

“We went back and forward with emails and they asked what would be the best machine for my needs. A week later they came back and said they had a reconditioned machine they would like to donate to me and they would make me a custom cutter.

“All I had to pay for was the shipping. They did all that for me. I’m so grateful. The machine is worth about £300. The machine arrived last month and it is amazing. I can put two layers of felt in the die and it cuts four whole bears.”

Praising the California-based firm Ellison for its generosity, Lesley, 52, who lives in Penicuik, added: “In this day and age when everybody is fighting everybody else you’d never have thought about people in another country being so kind.”

Lesley, who works with William Purves Funeral Directors in her Midlothian hometown, produces white bears decorated with purple stitching and a ribbon.

The idea is that one bear will be placed with the baby and the other given to the family.

She said: “All those years ago you were encouraged to move on and get on with it.

“But working in a funeral directors, which I do now, I came up with the idea to make these little bears. Nowadays people are encouraged to bond with their child and make memories and have memory boxes.

“I’ve had amazing feedback. It is amazing how a small thing can mean so much to people.

“I have had people who have lost babies and they keep the other bear in a memory box. It helps them to feel they have a connection with their child.”

janet.bee@jpress.co.uk