Teddy bears: Adults on their stuffed toy companions

Three readers' bears

A recent article by David Cannadine about grown-ups with teddy bears prompted readers to write in with their own toy stories.

The article discussed the enduring appeal for both children and adults. Below is a selection of your stories about the powerful bond between bear and owner.

Vera and her patched up bear with one eye, "Big Ted" Vera and Big Ted, the Jewish refugee bear

Big Ted is an 84-year-old Jewish refugee bear from Vienna. He came to London on 15 August 1938, and now has many patches and hardly any stuffing left. He only has one eye, a rare blue one, as I pulled the other one out. As a toddler I refused to eat, much to my mother's worry, unless I clasped Big Ted's blue glass eye in my hand. Over the years he has been hugged and loved and kissed by my two children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He now lives in Israel with my daughter. Vera Feldman, 82, Birmingham

Beverley with "Simon" Beverley with Simon

The bear in my life is called Simon and I've had him for 58 years. He is on a six-month waiting list for bear surgery, "beartox", pampering and a nose job. Apparently his squeaker has moved to under his armpit so it's heart surgery too. My family think I've lost the plot and my sister-in-laws think it's hysterical, although they have promised to send him a get well card. Beverley Ettle, Eastleigh, Hampshire

Mary Notzon and "Paddie" Mary Notzon and Paddie

I've had my teddy, Paddie, for just over a year now. But he's already seen me through a lot. When I bought him, I was still married and living in the US. Then, after my husband and I divorced, we (Paddie and I) moved to London. I couldn't fit him in my luggage or my cargo containers. So I had to pull out all of his stuffing. It was a tearful event, akin to surgery. I even told him he was going into a very deep sleep, but when he woke up he'd be in London with me. He's my best friend and I would be heartbroken if anything were to ever happen to him. My bed would seem very empty indeed without Paddie. No, not just my bed. My life. Mary Gillian Notzon, Westminster

Elyn and her husband on a bridge on the left. Their teddy bears Camila and Arthur on the right. Elyn and her husband, and their stuffed counterparts

For the last 12 years, my husband and I have shared the attentions of a French teddy bear named Arthur and his matching companion, a floppy-eared bunny named Camila. She's a true material girl, with wardrobe. He's a wise observer of her foibles. We can always tell who our true friends are because they "get it" about these fuzzy kids - that although not alive, they have been enlivened by affection and interaction. They provide us with comic relief, a bit of psycho-drama and surprising wisdom. They even have their own blog. Elyn Aviva, Girona, Spain

Ally Hauptmann-Gurski with her "Teddy" Ally with Teddy

My bear was made in about 1946 in the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany when I was two. My mother made him herself because 1946 were the hunger years there, and goods of any description were non-existent. He is dark red and the material is woollen upholstery velvet, now with a few holes. His arms and legs have been connected to the body with screws. If I ever gave him a name beyond Teddy it has been lost on the long journey from Germany to Australia. Maybe it is time I gave him a proper name - better late than never. Ally Hauptmann-Gurski, Adelaide, Australia

Heather holding her bear Frank; Frank in the garden Heather with Frank

I have a small brown bear, Frank by name. He is so called because he is an earnest, honest, upright bear. He was given to me by a friend, as a promise that he would come home to me - and Frank. Frank had looked after my friend when his life went wrong. My friend never came home, he went to France and found someone else. Now Frank and I look after each other and we go everywhere together. Frank is a very special wee bear and very knowing. He has a beautiful soul. I will love him always. He is a good listener and he is my best friend. Heather, Rutland

Two separate photos of Bill and his wife each holding "Ted E. Bear" Bill Walker and his wife with Edward Erbert Bear

Back in 1968, I bought my then girlfriend a blue teddy from Woolworths. I met a friend and his girlfriend coming out of the shop, and he asked who it was for. When I told him he said, "What a stupid thing to buy a girlfriend." His girl turned on him scornfully and said, "He's lovely. You would obviously never buy me anything nice like that." Edward Erbert Bear (Ted E Bear for short) is still one of my wife's most prized possessions. Bill Walker, Portsmouth

My Big Ted was sent from India where my father was serving during WWII. One night when I was about five, my mother told me I was sobbing for hours before she managed to persuade me to tell her the reason. I confessed that I loved Ted more than Jesus. Coming from a family of devout Christians I must have thought this particularly risky. Ted is still in my bedroom 65 years later and I credit him with my life as a card-carrying atheist. Margaret, Derbyshire

Benjamin with his polar bear teddy Benjamin with his polar bear teddy

I herniated a disc in my lower back in my early 30s and the doctor recommended I purchase one of those long body pillows to help reduce pain while sleeping. The thought depressed me and made me feel old. On a whim I googled "giant teddy bear" and, to my delight, found a website that sold giant teddy bears that were just as long as the body pillow and cost a few dollars less. I've been sleeping with a polar bear ever since. Happy back, happy dreams. Benjamin Dahlbeck, Atlanta, Georgia, US

Paula as a child (l) and "Big Ted" and the lost "Little Ted" hanging out to dry on a washing line Paula as a child, and Big Ted and Little Ted hanging out to dry

I took my two bears everywhere with me, clinging to them throughout my childhood and always planned to be buried with them in my coffin. They both therefore became very bashed and thin as their stuffing leaked out more and more. The oldest one, Little Ted, was so thin and patched he looked more like a glove puppet. Then disaster struck. Little Ted simply disappeared from my bed. I last saw him one day when I'd gone for a nap with my year-old son. Ted was never seen again. I spent years searching. Finally I came to suspect that my husband had thrown him away, as he was in the habit of throwing away my things if he thought they were worn out. But I was seriously suicidal for a very long time at the loss. He was the one enduring security in my life. I really had to struggle to get a grip on my grief. I wonder if other readers have felt so distraught about the loss of a bear that they too have been plunged in to such despair. Even now, in my 50s, I have to brace myself to think about Little Ted's loss. Apart from that, I'm not too nutty. Paula, Oxford

Philip waving at the camera; His old antique bear Philip and his bear

My first bear was bought for me by my grandfather. Today that bear has had his missing eyes replaced with buttons, his fur is almost all gone, one ear is ragged and he is all wrinkled through compacted stuffing. I was also given his venerable wife and three others, so I have quite a family of them rapidly approaching pensionable age. Someone once said that if I had to escape the house quickly, I would find time to collect the teddy family and I could not actually deny that. They are very special to me as a link to my past. Philip Meers, Birmingham

Ros holding her bear in an armchair Ros holding her bear

My bear was already second-hand when he was given to me in 1945. I think he was already 13 years old. I was an only child and he featured as the hero in all my imaginative games - Prince Charming was a favourite role. Now he has no eyes and not much fur, and his right paw has recently burst open, but he sits upright on a shelf in my study and I love him still. Ros Aitken, Richmond

I am 59 and I have a teddy bear which I got as a child. He originally belonged to my brother who died when I was three (my brother was 14). He has never had a name, just Ted. He has seen a lot of wear and tear. His head which used to rotate has been sown back on to the torso twice and he is threadbare with hardly any fur left. I am a 6ft 3in burly Yorkshireman, and I suppose if pushed I might admit that I love this tatty inanimate object, which has been the only consistency throughout my life. He has pride of place sitting on my bedroom windowsill looking out at the world. Somehow it is soothing to know he is still around when everything else has changed. Rob, Hull, East Yorkshire

Katie Bell holding her bear "Nardi" Katie with Nardi

I've had my teddy called Nardi for 48 years. Given to me at birth by my maternal grandmother, he's named after the ice cream parlour Nardini's near Glasgow. I wouldn't be without him. I used to cuddle him tightly at night just in case I was snatched by monsters in the night. Then at least I'd have him with me to help me get home. Katie Bell, Glasgow

I'm 57 and still have my childhood bears, along with many others that have moved in with us over the years. Another moved in yesterday. It's somewhere around 150 in total now. They are loyal friends. Jonathan Pope, Kings Lynn, Norfolk

Laura with "Teddy Trousers" (left); The rest of her collection (right) Laura and her collection of teddies

My partner and I have 17 teddy bears which we've collected over the last five years, one of whom is my partner's best friend and has been since he was 18 months old. Our teddies are a huge part of our lives. They travel the world with us and I couldn't "bear" to leave any of them at home. Laura, Exeter, Devon

Start Quote

Where are you, McCluskey?”

End Quote Mark Leigh

I miss my teddy bear. He was called McCluskey and I'd had him since I was a baby. When I was 19 I asked my Mum where McCluskey was and she told me she'd given him to a kid down the street. The boy was about 12, who I can't imagine wanted a teddy. My Mum said his Dad had left him and she felt sorry for him. I had no Dad either but, whereas this kid had a room full of toys, I'd had virtually none. I went round to their house a few times to get McCluskey but they weren't in and then I found out they'd moved away. I think of McCluskey in that kid's house, not being loved like I loved him, and sat on a shelf or in a box, or even discarded. I'm 58 now and still think of McCluskey every time I see a teddy bear. Where are you, McCluskey? Mark Leigh, Bolton

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