Teddies for Loving Care

The Origins of the Appeal and the Compulsive Idea

The TLC Appeal originated after an allergic reaction suddenly caused the swelling and blocking of the windpipe of the wife of a Freemason. Her life was saved by the rapid action of the medical staff at an A&E unit, who were able to resuscitate and stabilise her. They are both eternally grateful for the swift and caring attention that she received, but found the experience the most frightening of their lives and speculated on the distress that children must face when visiting A&E units. The idea of doing something useful for medical staff at A&E units was discussed with other local Freemasons, and from that point, the compulsive idea of “Teddies for Loving Care” was born. The Appeal was launched in Essex in 2001 and has since been adopted by most of the Masonic provinces across England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland, and now the rest of the world. Since the Appeal was founded in England in 2001, more than 2.8 million teddies have been distributed in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Gibraltar, Cyprus and, now, New Zealand. In New Zealand, the programme has expanded out of hospitals to also work with rural first responder units. In 2019, we sent teddies to Samoa during the measles outbreak. Most of the money raised to fund the Appeal comes from Freemasons themselves through lodge donations, but we also receive some donations from grateful individuals and the sale of TLC merchandise e.g. other teddies (not the ones supplied to hospitals) and lapel pins. As the TLC Appeal is a Masonic initiative, by its pure nature, it has also benefited Freemasonry, by raising the level of public awareness of the contribution made to the community by Freemasonry, a greater understanding of the principles on which Freemasonry is founded, and how those principles are exercised in the modern world. A hospital visit can be a frightening experience for a young child, especially in an emergency. Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) is a way of providing much-needed comfort to children in A&E departments, helping to reduce the shock and distress of their experience. Every child that receives a teddy gets to take it home. The medical staff can give a bear to a child that is suffering particularly from trauma, injury or illness. They use the bears to befriend the children, to reward them for being brave and in some cases to demonstrate what they are going to do. TLC is locally managed by Freemasons who also volunteer their time to run the scheme. Since its inception in 2001, over 30,000 teddies have been given away in New Zealand. One A&E nurse said: “It’s not just a teddy, it’s so much more.” What We Do As a charity, we do not turn down donations from others who see the benefits of the idea, but over 99% of the money needed is being donated by Freemasons. https://www.tlcappeal.org.nz/ With a lot of help from the Freemasons of the District Grand Lodge of the South Island, we have now managed to distribute teddy bears to every hospital in the South Island and all the rural First Responder units as well. Trekking around the South Island to deliver the teddies was a great reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country.