Up to 30,000 teddy bears collected by Sheffield mums for refugee children

Children from Walkley Primary School with the toys they have donated to Project Paddington. Pictures by Becki Morris
Children from Walkley Primary School with the toys they have donated to Project Paddington. Pictures by Becki Morris
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Tens of thousands of teddy bears have been collected by big-hearted Sheffield mums to send to refugee children.

Organisers of Project Paddington estimate between 20,000 and 30,000 bears have been donated by children from hundreds of schools across the UK.

Children from Walkley Primary School with the toys they have donated to Project Paddington.

Children from Walkley Primary School with the toys they have donated to Project Paddington.

The mountains of bears are being collected and sent to a unit near junction 28 of the M1 ready to be shipped to less fortunate youngsters.

Dozens of bears have been donated at Walkley Primary, in Walkley, where staff have been overwhelmed by the generosity of pupils and parents.

Headteacher Val Sian said: “Our school is filled with freshly washed teddy bears who have received a big hug and lots of love from their present owners, waiting to be sent to the refugee children.

“Thank you to our parent volunteers who are helping with laminating those important messages from our children including the name of the teddy bear.”

Children from Walkley Primary School with the toys they have donated to Project Paddington.

Children from Walkley Primary School with the toys they have donated to Project Paddington.

There are now 560 schools from across the country involved, with 60 regional coordinators assisting the group of Sheffield mums who set up the project.

Joy French, of Norfolk Park, launched Project Paddington on Facebook after seeing photographs of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned on a Turkish beach.

She initially thought the project would be small-scale but has seen it escalate in just a few weeks.

Joy said: “We think we have between 20,000 and 30,000 teddy bears in total.

“It has been incredibly touching and we have lots of support from all kinds of people and just the outpouring of generosity of schools has been overwhelming.

“They have collected hundreds of pounds and lots of teddies. The messages are beautiful too.”

Joy, a trainee vicar, said a shipping company has got involved, but the project is keen to get logistical and financial help from Sheffield businesses.

She said: “We have got a shipping company who are helping with the logistics and we are hoping to get them out to Greece and hopefully Jordan.

“We would really love to have logistical or financial help from Sheffield companies with the cost of shipping.

“In return they will become friends of the project and we will advertise them on our website.”

Joy added they are currently developing phase two of the project which will encourage teenagers to get involved.

n Any businesses which want to get help should email info@projectpaddington.com