THE owner of a cuddly collection of 200 teddy bears is hoping they will help raise money for a local children’s charity.
Paul Wallace has bought his two children bears every year for their birthdays and Christmas, a family tradition which has lasted for 36 years, and over time most have found a home with him in Southbourne Grove, Bournemouth.
But with a move to Malta imminent, Snotty, Stuart and friends will have to find new homes, and rather than just giving them away Mr Wallace, his daughter Louise, 36, and son Alex, 34, plan to raise funds for disadvantaged children.
Mr Wallace, a former lecturer at Bournemouth and Poole College, said: “We bought the first bears from Selfridges in 1976, just before Louise was born, and took them with us to see Bing Crosby at the London Palladium.
“From then on it was a tradition I couldn’t break, and once they got old enough, Louise and Alex started getting their own back and buying bears for me.
“They’ve come from all over the world. We used to go to London at Christmas and buy them from Harrods and others have come from Egypt, Holland and Ireland.
“The real challenge was making them all different – once you are up to 150, distinctive bears are hard to find.”
Alex Wallace, a music teacher in Poole, said: “It will be a shame to see them go. It’s a bit of a cliché but they have become part of the family.
“It would be nice to see them end up in an orphanage or something like that.”
Mr Wallace is looking for ideas for ways to raise money, perhaps by auctioning the bears, which are in good condition, and in some instances quite valuable or selling the entire collection.
A small number, however, are not for sale.
“Louise is keeping her first two bears. She is having IVF treatment at the moment and hopefully she will be able to pass these teddies to her own child, if it is successful,” added Mr Wallace.
“But there’s not going to be enough room for the others any more.
“It seems a shame to just give them away, there must be some way we can use them to raise money within the next two weeks.
“It will be nice for my children to know that their bears are helping a good cause.”
If you have any ideas on raising money, or want to buy the bears, contact Paul on 07901 603135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org