Anyone passing through Gosforth on their daily exercise might be surprised to see a 4ft teddy bear enjoying a spot of watercolour painting or tucking into an alfresco breakfast of crunchy nut cornflakes. This cuddly companion goes by the name of Hyde and he belongs to the Tawn family. His daily adventures were the idea of little Florence Tawn, age 6, who wanted to do something to raise awareness of a local campaign to support St Oswald’s Hospice.
Florence has been a hospice supporter ever since she and classmates at Brunton First School got involved in the Great North Elmer trail, organised by and in aid of St Oswald’s in 2019. Florence decided to draw every single one of the 50 big elephant sculptures across Tyne and Wear, and the hospice were so impressed with her efforts, she was awarded a ‘Youth Champion’ award at the local charity’s annual Life List awards, for supporters who have gone the extra mile.
Florence hit upon the un-BEAR-lievably good idea of Hyde’s daily challenges when she saw a poster about the ‘Bears 4 St Oswald’s campaign, organised by Gosforth Schools trust. The schools were encouraging local people to place teddy bears in their windows for children to spot on their daily exercise and share using the hashtag #Bears4StOswalds. People could then make a small donation to the hospice’s Covid-19 appeal, to help recoup some of the funds lost through closed charity shops and cancelled fundraising events
Florence decided to borrow her brother’s bear and dress him up in a particular theme every day. She made a sign on her chalkboard to leave messages for passers-by and the campaign hashtag to raise awareness of the charity. So far, Florence’s bear has been an artist, an ice cream seller, a footballer and taken part in a Nerf gun fight, and he’s proven to be a hit with the neighbours, as Florence’s mum, Lucy Tawn, explains:
The response to Hyde’s adventures has been amazing, he’s become quite the attraction in our neighbourhood. Families, as part of their daily exercise, have made special detours on their walking route to come and see what he’s doing each day. We’ve had children asking us through the window what the theme will be tomorrow and lots of laughter and chatter can be heard as people pass. It’s been lovely - we feel Flo’s creativity has been brightening up everyone’s daily exercise but most importantly helping to raise awareness and funds for such an important cause.
We’re so proud of Flo - she’s only six years old and doesn’t really have a clear understanding as to why she doesn’t attend school at the moment and why life - as she knows it - is now completely different. But she’s thrown herself wholeheartedly into this. I keep asking if today will be the last day but she’s having none of it! Hyde will be out there for St Oswald’s Hospice, come rain or shine!!
“I like seeing people smiling and laughing at Hyde. He makes them happy, that’s why I keep sharing him every day! I hope they share their bears too! My next ideas for Hyde are for him to have a BBQ, play a musical instrument and become a gymnast like me!
I love fundraising for the hospice because I know it’s good and kind to help people.”
The Bears for St Oswald’s campaign is ran by Gosforth Schools Trust and anyone who spots a bear on their daily walk can share on social media using #Bears4StOswalds, tagging in @stoswaldshospice on Facebook or @stoswaldsuk on Instagram and Twitter
Donations can be made to St Oswald’s Hospice Covid-19 appeal at www.stoswaldsuk.org/urgent-appeal or by calling 0191 246 9123.