Dunstable mum Laura Hunt has just finished making a very special teddy bear.
It’s for nine-year-old Norfolk girl Emily Bulman who’s been involved in every detail of its creation, from the siting of its ears to the colour of its paws.
Emily had life-saving open heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital almost two years ago and now she and her mum Claire are on a mission to raise as much money as possible for the world-famous children’s hospital.
Former swimming teacher Claire, 38, said: “No words could ever express our gratitude so we organise a fundraiser once a year. We go in for lots of competitions to win prizes for raffles and one was for a £65 teddy bear.
“We didn’t win but Laura, who made it, was so touched by our story that she said she wanted to help. She asked Emily if she’d like to design her own teddy bear for the fundraiser and it’s been absolutely amazing.
“It was such a lovely thing to do and I start welling up every time I think of it.
“We’re going to raffle it off at our next event in August.”
Emily suffers from the hereditary condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and had to have emergency surgery in 2013 after it was discovered she had a flap of skin blocking her arteries.
Her proud mum said perhaps because of her own health problems, Emily has always been a caring little girl: “When she was four she told me she wanted to grow her hair for The Little Princess Trust ‘because they need it more than I do’. She refused to have it cut and donated more than 30cms.
“After her operation we talked about what she’d been through and it was her decision to start fundraising.
“It began with loom band bracelets which we made and sold at craft fairs, but she soon decided we weren’t making enough money and asked if we could organise a craft fair of our own.
“Last year we gave GOSH a cheque for £1,517.”
Mum-of-two Laura, 36, of Hillcroft said: “I’ve always loved anything crafty and I’ve been making bears for about six years under the name Lolly Bou Creations.
“There’s quite a lot of skill involved and I like using traditional methods. I’m self-taught but recently went on a course in Kent to learn various techniques.
“It was really good and I feel I’ve already improved quite a bit. There were several little things I wasn’t getting quite right and it was beneficial having someone show me how to do them.
“A lot of character comes from placing ears at different locations on the head and the stuffing is very important – you’ve got to get the right weight. It’s a combination of wood wool – which looks like straw – Polyfilla, little plastic pellets and sometimes glass beads.”
The former Queensbury pupil really enjoyed working on Emily’s bear. “I had to needlefelt the GOSH logo on the foot and that was quite a challenge,” she smiled.
“He’s quite a traditional -looking bear, his body is beige mohair but the paws are all different colours.”
Laura grew up with three bears but her favourite was a tatty teddy she found in the back of an old car.
“It was filled with sawdust, had string joints and was completely falling apart,” she recalled. “But it had the sweetest little face – even though one ear was missing and an eye had fallen out.”
Laura said reading Emily’s letter about why she wanted to win a bear was the inspiration she needed to get serious about running her own business: “It certainly motivated me and I’ve really really loved it. We’ve built up quite a relationship and we’ll definitely stay in touch.”
In addition to bears, Laura also makes bespoke brooch bouquets, mosaic door plaques and fused glass pendants in iridescent colours.
> See her work at www.facebook.com/lollyboucreations/info?tab=page_info and www.etsy.com/shop/LollyBouCreations