By Kaye Preema, Lithgow Red Cross – Teddy Bears, Teddy Bears, Teddy Bears. Hundreds of Teddy Bears huddled together waiting to comfort a troubled child!
An amazing sight when dressed in red, white and black patterns with friendly smiling faces, looking for a child to cuddle to help to lessen their stress and draw up a smile from their troubled faces.
These knitted teddy bears are called Trauma TeddiesTM. Lithgow has its own angel, who has single-handedly knitted 273 Trauma Teddies, for such children in distress. She is Elaine McMahon and, between 2013 and to date, has been knitting and carefully putting together Trauma Teddies as part of the Australian Red Cross project and Lithgow Branch’s effort.
Australian Red Cross is well known for its work during disasters but cuddly woollen knitted bears, “Trauma Teddies”, made by volunteers of the organisation, are bringing comfort to sick and frightened children all year round. In previous years the Trauma Teddies have been knitted in various multi colours but, this year, the colours have changed.
This year the theme has been red, white and black to keep with the colours that symbolise Red Cross.
The Red Cross Trauma TeddyTM is instantly recognised throughout the country, but few people realise this cute and cuddly character was born in Campbelltown.
Trauma Teddy was conceived in 1990 when Richard Hamilton, then superintendent of Campbelltown ambulance service, saw a teddy bear given to a child being treated by the ambulance service in Camden. He was impressed by the calming effect the bear had on the childso, through his mother Ms Vera Hamilton, he asked Red Cross to assist in providing more bears for children treated by the ambulance. Red Cross swung into action and Trauma TeddyTM was born.
Across Australia more than 60,000 Trauma Teddies are given out to a diverse range of services.
Lithgow volunteers have been knitting Teddies, at least since the mid nineties. For stressed children at the scene of a road accident and other emergencies, or those who have been admitted to hospital, scared in the dentist chair, or lost their home during a bushfire, “Trauma Ted” becomes an immediate and inseparable “cling to” friend, who then accompanies them when they return home.
Trauma Teddies have been given to the ambulance service, dentists, doctors, hospitals, fire brigades, SES, to name just a few of the local services, who may come in contact with children and who may need a comforting friend in times of stress.
Although Lithgow Branch of the Red Cross only has 17 members currently, there are an active band of knitters clicking away. They are under the supervision of Beryl Brain and Elaine McMahon. Elaine’s effort in producing such beautiful Teddies is an amazing personal achievement, which deserves recognition. No Teddy is the same, all knitted with the love of giving.
Many hands contribute to the construction of the Teddies – members knit, members embroider faces, some stuff the teddy skins and some are responsible for sewing up. Careful attention is given to safety in construction of the Trauma Teddies so that any loose threads, stuffing or items that may go into mouths and swallowed are quickly eliminated. Beryl is responsible for the job of labelling the Teddies with “Red Cross”, so that strict quality inspection is very important before distribution.
So next time you see a cute knitted Trauma Teddy comforting a sick or distressed child spare a moment to think of the dedicated volunteers of Red Cross both in Lithgow and Australia.
If you are interested in joining the local Branch of Lithgow Red Cross, meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month (except December and January) at 1.30pm at Red Cross House, Queen Elizabeth Park, Main St Lithgow.