Teddies for Tragedies

LATEST REPORT:   2016 Update  
PAST ITEMS:          2015 Update    2014 Update    Teddies for Tragedies - A Short History  
                                 Gazette article of Wednesday 25th January 2012    Newsletter - May 2012  

2016 Update

Teddies for Tragedies

Over the winter months teddies have gone to Zambia and Kosovo with many knitted blankets, jumpers, cardigans, hats etc. and also a very large quantity of margarine boxes filled with toiletries which, I am told, people clamour for.  We also sent out to Br. Titus in Zambia some sewing machines for the sewing group that has been set up and bibles and bible notes for the many Sunday Schools and the teachers.

As I write this report I am reminded by the TV that it is 20 years since the terrible shooting at Dunblane school.  You may remember that there was an outpouring of sympathy from around the world and many many soft toys were sent to the school, so many that some were given to hospitals in the area.
I believe I sent just 20 of our teddies and I was thrilled to receive a letter from the Head of the school
that every teddy had been given to a child in the school. Our motto rang very true:-

MADE WITH LOVE SENT WITH LOVE TO BE LOVED

Our grand total of teddies distributed to 55 different countries is now over 292,000.

Before Christmas we were able to send 106 shoeboxes filled with gifts for children and adults at Christmas who, but for the boxes, would not have anything. Blythwood Care were very appreciative and along with many others they were distributed in Eastern Europe. A big thank you to those who filled a box or gave me items to include.  In the Autumn I shall be starting to get things together for the shoeboxes for next Christmas.

In the last issue of the Village Magazine I mentioned that our piano was going out to a small school in Dushtrri, Kosovo.  I am very pleased to tell you that it arrived safely and is already much loved by the children.

Wishing you all a lovely summer. God bless.

Audrey Pegrum MBE
Essex Branch Organiser

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2015 Update

During the summer teddies have gone to Zambia, Kosovo, Cambodia and Burma, with more teddies going
to Kosovo at the beginning of October,together with many knitted blankets, jumpers, cardigans, hats etc. and, of course, the toiletry boxes containing soap, flannel, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and often the small shampoos you are given in hotels.  These are very much welcomed by the people who have so little.
Also in October our Broadwood piano is going out to a small school in Dushtrri, Kosovo.  Alan no longer plays the piano so we are delighted to give it to the school, and hope children will get many happy times from their music.

We are now getting ready to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children and adults at Christmas who, but for the shoeboxes, would not have anything.  I have just received from Blythswood Care news about last year's boxes and I share some of this with you.

1 'Homeless former nurse surprised someone cares'.
2 Every gift appreciated by children from low income families.
3 Geza was a resident on a rehabilitation course for alcoholics when the shoeboxes were distributed and

this experience of unexpected kindness marked a turning point in his attitude towards others.  When he received a box full of gifts he was so surprised.  It made a big impact on him. On his next visit home his wife noticed the difference in his kindness towards her and his 8 year old son.  Since completing his course in the Transylvanian village of Ozd he frequently tells how his life has changed.
Now he has a job and his relationship with his family has healed.

Reading items like his just puts everything into perspective and makes filling shoeboxes so worthwhile.
If you wish to be involved, please do contact me on 01268 710757. Blythswood issued leaflets to give an idea what to put in.

Lastly, a big thank you to everyone who has supported me by knitting teddies, clowns, blankets, jumpers etc and also for filling the toiletry boxes and Christmas shoeboxes. A big thank you too to Isabel and the 'Teddy Baggers' who meet regularly at Isabel's home to put the teddies into their individual cloth bags and also sew many knitted squares into lovely blankets.

In the summer we sent a lorry load of items for people living in dire conditions – shacks and barrack-like buildings in Montenegro.  There are about 2,500 people from elderly to babies who are stateless due to fleeing from Kosovo and they have had their passports taken from them.  They all wash in four large cattle troughs and their toilets are unmentionable.

Five lorries left England at the end of March to take aid to them and to help make conditions better.
I was able to give them 27 sacks of crocheted and knitted blankets, new knitted jumpers, cardigans,
hats etc, two duvets with covers and pillowcases, 450 toiletry boxes containing soap, flannel, toothbrush, toothpaste and comb, new men's sweaters, 450 teddies, 100 clowns, crutches and zimmer frame. Thank you to everyone who helped in any way to get this consignment together.

Again, we were able to get Christmas Shoeboxes out to men, women and children in Eastern Europe which was often the only present they received.  Thank you to those who brought a lot of happiness into their lives, not only for the presents but knowing that somebody far away was thinking of them.

During the winter aid and teddies went to Zambia and lots of blankets and jumpers to Kenya.

Our grand total of teddies sent out to 51 different countries is now 289,422.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year. God bless.

Audrey Pegrum MBE
Essex Branch Organiser

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2014 Update

Teddies in Sri Lanka
As I write this report it is a year since I fell down the stairs and broke my neck, but I am delighted to tell you that I am at last feeling much better and now able to drive again.

A young lad in Kosovo put on his wish list a piano. In time Hope & Aid Direct, who do the humanitarian convoys to Kosovo, had a grand piano donated to them.  It had been serviced and tuned before handing it over.  The piano was put on a lorry on its side and our packs of teddies, clowns, blankets and knitted items were packed all around it for protection as travelling to Kosovo involved going over very harsh terrain.

On arrival, the piano was off-loaded and humped up many stairs to a very damp warehouse where it stood for several days on crates as the legs had been taken off.  It was then taken back down the stairs and driven to its location.   After involving many more stairs getting it into position, the legs were screwed back on and in came the young lad who sat down and immediately played Fur Elise by Beethoven.  Everybody there was astounded as the piano was still completely in tune, and many tears flowed as they saw the complete happiness on the young lad's face.   This was recorded, so I was able to hear the rendition on their arrival back in England.   It was absolutely lovely ad it was great that our packs of soft teddies, clowns etc were able to help.

Since the last magazine, 3,695 teddies, together with clowns, blankets, jumpers, hats etc have gone out to Kosovo going in to many schools, hospitals and homes.   Many thanks to the 'Teddy Baggers' who still meet at Isabel's home to put the teddies into their individual material bags and for sewing up very small blankets and knitted squares to make large blankets.

As many of you know, Isabel broke her ankle earlier in the year and the large special boot and knee brace which she was given by the hospital, was not wanted back.  I am pleased to say these items are now being used in a hospital in Kosovo, so if any readers have medical items such as these, including crutches, please let me have them as hospitals abroad are so very happy to take them.

Keep warm over the winter and I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year. God bless.

Audrey Pegrum MBE
Essex Branch Organiser

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A Short History

Teddies Display

The first teddies went out to the Sudan in 1986, sent by WRVS workers to where the Emergency Care for Children nurses were setting up a temporary orphanage in a refugee camp for some 2,000 children with TB. The teddies were such a success that more were requested. Someone then sent out shoe bags and these were a roaring success as the children then had something to keep their one and only treasure in (this being the only thing they had ever owned).

One doctor said that the teddies did more good than medicine. “Cheer the children up, give them hope and you are on the road to putting them right physically!”

Teddies Display
Teddies for Tragedies came to Ramsden Bellhouse in 1994 when my daughter gave me the pattern for a teddy which was printed in her Church Magazine. I started to knit the teddies at various local clubs I belonged to and people were very interested in what I was doing and asked for a pattern. I thought I was only giving them to people in the village; little did I know they were passing the pattern on to friends and family far and wide.

In the first year some 3,000 teddies came in to me and I just delivered them to a lady in Guildford, having no idea where they were going from there.

Teddies Display
In 1995 I was asked to run the Essex Branch, which meant I had to find the outlets abroad or elsewhere. I contacted various charities and the new Essex Branch really took off. Since then, over 272,500 have been distributed in 56 countries, including hospitals and homes in this country.

I then decided I wanted to send more than the teddies and started to collect clothes in the village from friends and neighbours, to send to adults as well as children. I then got people knitting jumpers, cardigans, hats, bootees and blankets. Little did I think that knitting a teddy would lead me to visit war-torn Bosnia in 1997. Apart from the terrible state of the buildings and many traumatised children, there appeared to be no colour anywhere, so when the beautifully knitted or crocheted blankets, often done by the residents of Ramsden Bellhouse, get to areas such as this, to wake up to a lovely colourful blanket must be wonderful. I’ve also visited India twice, Rwanda and Romania, finding many distressing situations.

Teddies Display
Toiletries are always in short supply. We now collect 500gm margarine boxes and fill them with a face flannel, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and the little shampoos etc. that are often given in hotels. Many people in the village save these for me. These are mainly sent to Kosovo on a convoy that leaves here twice a year, as well as to Zambia.

In 2009 I was asked if I could knit clowns as, apparently, the children in Kosovo have a particular liking for them. The teddy pattern has now been converted to make clowns and so far well over 1,000 have been distributed in Kosovo and Sri Lanka. Leading up to Christmas we fill shoeboxes to go out to Eastern Europe for under privileged adults and children. This year 450 boxes were filled, bringing joy and happiness to many who, but for the boxes, would receive nothing at Christmas.

Teddies Display
We help sponsor children in Africa to help give them an education and a chance in life. This costs £180 per annum, but I have devised a scheme whereby 10 people help part sponsor one child at only £18 per year. I need a few more part sponsors so, if you can help, please contact me.

Here in Ramsden Bellhouse we have a group of ladies who meet weekly to put the teddies in their bags (no teddy leaves me without its own bag). They meet in Isabel Johnson’s home and have a lovely social time together whilst helping me in the process. As I’ve been heard to say, everything that goes on is a team effort. I had the honour of meeting the Queen in 2007 when I was awarded the MBE, which I accepted on behalf of everyone who helps and supports the charity.

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Gazette article - Wednesday 25th January 2012

Audrey sends teddy bears all around world

Teddies for Tragedies

Gran has dispatched 273,500

"I THINK I must be keeping Royal Mail in business," Audrey Pegrum said, surrounded by the fruits of her labours.   In the garage of her Ramsden Bellhouse home are a dozen green sacks, each stuffed with 90 hand-knitted teddy bears, ready to be delivered out across the world.

The Teddies for Tragedies project began in 1985, and helps organise local groups to produce and distribute the bears to needy youngsters in areas which need them most.
Since Audrey, 76, began in 1995, she has sent out 273,500 teddies, and the total is still going up.

Full-time

Audrey said: "It is a full-time job organising it all.  I get e-mails and letters from all over and reply to everyone.   I talk on the phone to people who are helping out for hours at a time.  I'm like an agony aunt sometimes.   But it's nice making friends.  I have a lady who lives in the Yukon in Canada who makes teddies and brings them over with her.   She tells me about the snow out there, and I imagine her sat by the fire knitting away."

From orphanages in eastern Europe to remote villages in India, the brightly-coloured teddies have brightened up hundreds of thousands of children's lives.   Audrey has also expanded into making clowns, which are particularly popular in Kosovo and Sri Lanka.

Audrey, a grandmother and member of St Mary's Church in the village, started her extraordinary work when her daughter Heather showed her a church newsletter.   She said: "She gave me the leaflet and said, 'mum, can you knit this?' I gave it a go, and a friend stuffed it for me.  It all went from there."

She has since found an army of willing volunteers ready to help, with WIs, church groups, social clubs and many others all working on thousands of bears a year.  Audrey also sends out other aid, such as boxes of toiletries and blankets, second-hand clothes and shoes.   She also gets groups of people to club together to pay £180 to sponsor a disadvantaged child for a year.   She said: "We take so much here for granted.  But a small thing can mean so much to someone who has nothing".

Blessed

"I'm so blessed here, it's good to do something to help others."   Audrey has travelled to many of the places she has helped, including India, Bosnia, and Rwanda.   She said: "It is incredibly moving."

Originally from Laindon, Audrey has lived in Ramsden Bellhouse for 59 years, and is a popular figure in the village.  She was nominated for an MBE in 2007.   She said: "I've had to slow down a bit now.  There was a time I was doing three talks a day to encourage new volunteers.   But there's still plenty going on."


Newsletter - May 2012

Dear Teddy Friends,

Again, the year since my last newsletter seems to have gone by in the twinkling of an eye.  

Teddies in Sri Lanka
This year 7000 teddies have been distributed to Hungary, Chernobyl, Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Serbia.  Our grand total is over 276,000 distributed to 56 different countries since 1995 and since 2009, 1500 clowns have been distributed mainly in Kosovo
and Sri Lanka.

We continued to support Hope in Sri Lanka this year.  Teddies and clowns were again distributed in the Hambantota hospital.   £200 was donated to them, which went towards clothes and a Christmas party.

Teddies in Roumania

Again, Medical Missionary News gave invaluable help in sending so many items to Zambia, such as knitted jumpers, blankets, teddies, stationery, toiletries, sewing and knitting machines, bibles and bible reading notes.  I have recently heard from Br. Titus that during Easter many children in Sunday schools and teenagers performed sketches, poems and memory verses and they were given clothing, toiletry boxes, bible notes etc.  He tells me that he now covers 6 provinces, and almost the entire country reaching out to children, teenagers and families as well as training and helping church leaders.  He is so pleased with everything we send out and also asked for chess sets, soccer balls and games kits.   If any of you know schools that are changing their games kits, I should be delighted to send the old ones out.

Teddies in Roumania

Since the last newsletter, Hope and Aid Direct have been to Kosovo twice.  Again, they took teddies, clowns, pasta, toiletries, shoes, blankets, knitted garments and duvets.   Over 2000 margarine boxes filled with toiletries were taken and very well received by many people.  Thank you to everybody who gives me their boxes and items to fill them.   Dorothy has done a marvellous job filling them especially this year as she is suffering from a very bad back.  Another large convoy will be leaving next October, so we are now stocking up for that.

Teddies in Roumania


In December, we were able to help with Blythswood’s Christmas Shoe Box appeal.  With help from the Seventh New Thundersley Brownies, St Nicholas Church, Laindon, Downham School, St Mary’s Church and the Baptist Church Ramsden Bellhouse and many individuals, over 450 boxes were sent from here.  Again, I am not able to give the amount of money sent towards transport costs as many Gift Aid envelopes were included for Blythswood to deal with, but on behalf of Blythswood a big thank you to everyone who helped.  From their base in Kent, where our boxes go, 16,660 were distributed and Blythswood Care as a whole were able to pass on 118,256 gift boxes.  As they say, this is a tremendous accomplishment, which could not have been achieved without your contribution, whichever form that may have taken.  Early in November there was an earthquake in the Kraljevo area of Serbia.  

Teddies in Roumania
Hundreds of families were being housed in temporary accommodation and rebuilding and repairs could not be started until Spring due to the low temperatures.  Gift boxes were given to many of these people at Christmas.  It is encouraging to know that the Shoe Box appeal gives much happiness to many people who struggle to make ends meet.

The leaflets for the 2012 appeal will be available in August, so please contact me, if you would like a leaflet to give you guidance as to what you can put in a box.   Any liquid like shampoo or shower gel must be no larger than 250 ml.

We have also been able to give to Blythswood throughout the year many sacks of good quality
second-hand clothes, shoes, new knitted jumpers, cardigans, blankets, etc. and teddies mainly for distribution in Eastern Europe.

Teddies in Roumania

We are still sponsoring children in India and Africa through Christian Hope International.  We have unfortunately lost a few sponsors over the year through the death of older people so I am looking for replacement sponsors.   To be a part sponsor costs £18 per annum, so if you are interested and would like to give a child a chance in life please contact me, and I stress that no private addresses will be disclosed.

I mentioned last year that Vic Bull, who founded Christian Hope, had sadly died.  In his memory The Victor Industrial Training Institute is being set up in the village of Paruvakkudi in Southern India in memory of the work carried out in that region by Vic.  He worked among some of the poorest children, and with the help of funds from a church in Devon built a children's home.  A new well was dug and through a filter system provided safe drinking water.  The Training Institute will launch an after-care program for children in the home and other poorest of the poor children to become self-supporting after their high school education.  The Institute will offer technical training to the children when they leave school.  It will offer both technical and non-technical training to both men and women.

Teddies in Roumania

The duration of training for various trades will be one or two years.  The training has the approval of Central Government in India and the National Council for vocational training.   Courses will cover Fitter, Electrician, Draughtsman (civil), Dressmaking, Wireman and Plumber with a maximum of 16 to 18 trainees per trade.   I am raising funds to help this project and will be having a stall at the Ramsden Bellhouse Fete on 23rd June to support this.

We are still supporting Jo and Ron of Love Light Romania in their various projects to help very poor children and children who are HIV positive.   You will see in the following pictures children before and after they received warm clothing and teddies at Christmas.

Teddies in Roumania

Again, I would like to thank each and every one of you for all the beautiful knitting and crocheting you have delivered to me during the year, and of course, all the lovely teddies.   Thank you too to the ladies who make the teddy bags, especially Rose, who makes in the region of 100 most weeks and still knits clowns.   Thank you also to the ladies at Park Lodge, Billericay for covering many shoeboxes ready for Christmas and I'm sure I can rely on their help for this coming Christmas.  Thank you again to my teddy baggers who meet regularly to put the teddies into their bags.   Thank you to Beryl for helping and by taking in collections and to Cissie who embroiders lovely faces on blank-faced teddies that come in.   Barbara still gives teddies some tender loving care for which I thank her and of course, a big thank you to Alan for all the packing of blankets and lifting goods about.   Thank you to John who with the help of his computer, produces my Newsletter and deals with all my e-mails, which is a tremendous help both in time and cost.

Teddies in Roumania

Through fund raising and donations £3,160 has been given to various charities during the year to help with their many projects and I'd like to thank everybody who has helped raise this amount and also given the donations.  Every penny goes a long way to spreading joy and happiness to so many people around the world.

Finally, I have to announce now that after some 19 years being involved with Teddies for Tragedies I will be retiring at Christmas.  I will still carry on the ‘sponsored children’ project as that is just an ‘office job’, but I will not be taking in second-hand clothes, shoes, books and soft toys.  For those of you who wish to continue knitting teddies, I am listing the telephone number and e-mail address of Chris Doncaster, who keeps a list of the various Teddies for Tragedies branches and may be able to give you a contact much nearer to you than I am.  She is on 01562 745550 or chris.doncaster@btinternet.com.

Thank you to each and every one of you for all the support you have given to me over the years.  It has been a great joy to me to be involved with so many people, and I count you all my friends.  Through this team effort we have helped thousands of people throughout the world have a better life.  May God bless you all.

Yours in Christian love.

Teddies in Roumania

If you would like copies of the teddy, clown, jumper etc. patterns, please contact Audrey Pegrum.
Telephone: 01268 710757 Email: audrey.pegrum@btinternet.com