More than a hundred teddy bears have been donated by generous Swindon Borough Council staff members and all for a special reason. 

The bears will be offered at funerals at Kingsdown Crematorium by the council’s bereavement services team for the children who have suffered loss to keep and take home with them.

A special ‘adoption certificate’ will also come with each teddy that reads: “When you are feeling sad and you feel like you are on your own, squeeze me tight, as I’m here, you are not alone.”

The teddies will be adorned with ribbons for Wiltshire Treehouse, a local charity supporting childhood bereavement.

The project follows the Council’s participation in Wiltshire Treehouse’s ‘Week to Remember’ campaign as part of National Children’s Grief Awareness Week last November.

Throughout the week on social media, a teddy named Angel promoted various aspects of bereavement services to raise awareness of childhood bereavement.

After seeing the impact Angel had on children attending funerals at the time, bereavement services officer Zoe Fennell took the idea one step further.

Zoe said: “The aim is to provide a bear for a child that is finding coming into the chapel emotionally overwhelming, in the hope this will give them something to focus their thoughts on and help them to sit through the service while cuddling their gift.

“The bear may also provide a great deal of comfort in the time that follows when they think of their loved one or feel sad when they are missing them.

“After appealing to council colleagues, as well as friends and family, we finally have plenty of bears to launch the service and we hope it will be a big help to those children who have to go through a terrible loss.”

Councillor Chris Watts, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for the environment and transport, said: “What Zoe and the team are doing in the team is amazing. I’m so proud to have such caring staff working at the Council and I can’t thank them and those who donated the teddies enough.

Sarah Bear, business director at Wiltshire Treehouse, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to see the response to the bears at the crematorium, and that Angel, the crematorium’s ambassador bear from our Week to Remember ’23 campaign, continues to have a lasting impact."

Anyone who would like to donate a comfort teddy can drop it off at Kingsdown Crematorium or at the Register Office at the Civic Offices in Euclid Street.