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Trauma teddies on way to Ukraine

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By Bryan Armstrong
Trauma teddies on way to Ukraine

TEDDY bears collected from Dumfriesshire are on their way to help bring comfort to children caught up in the Ukraine conflict.

Several hundred new or mint-condition pre-owned soft toys were gathered through a local effort co-ordinated by the team at Ecclefechan Day Centre.

They are due to be delivered to Eastern Europe this week and distributed to youngsters with no toys, many displaced from their parents, on both sides of the Poland-Ukrainian border.

So-called ‘trauma teddies’ are widely believed to have a positive effect on children such as those who have suffered the nightmare of having their world turned upside down during the fighting and attacks on their homeland.

Collecting the consignment from Ecclefechan was author Aileen Orr, a native of Lockerbie, who now lives in rural Berwickshire.

She has been involved from the start of the ‘Million Teddies’ campaign which has already delivered bears and soft toys from Scotland to underprivileged children in a number of the world’s trouble spots.

The effort is dedicated to Wojtek, the inspirational and highly intelligent Syrian brown bear which became a popular mascot to exiled Polish troops fighting with the allies in World War Two and later camped in the Scottish Borders. He ended his days as a favourite resident at Edinburgh Zoo.

Aileen, who wrote the book ‘Wojtec the Bear: Polish War Hero,’ has had a life-long interest in the almost human-like mammal having seen him as a small child and had close family connections with him during his time in Scotland.

She played a key role in the successful campaign to have a statue to the bear placed beside Edinburgh’s Princes Street and has also been involved in discussions over a proposed movie based on his life.

Before taking delivery of the soft toys consignment, Aileen gave a talk on Wojtek to a large attentive audience of Day Centre members and other residents.

She said afterwards: “It is groups like this who make the difference. People don’t know what they can do in times like this.

“A gift of a teddy seems such a small thing, but huge when a child has nothing.

“Special thanks to all at Ecclefechan Day Centre and Liz Sandford my long-time teddy champion.”

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