Whanganui ED staff receive Teddy Bears gifted by Freemasons


22 May 2018

From left: Freemasons Tony Mansfield and Bryce Smith, registered nurse Shannen Purcell, Dr Lou Fenton, registered nurse Sandya Sreejith and freemasons Bob Jenkins and Garry Spooner.

Thanks to Whanganui Freemasons, children aged two to seven admitted to Whanganui District Health Board’s (WDHB) Emergency Department (ED) will receive a Teddy Bear to help relax them during their treatment.

The Freemasons have gifted 140 Teddy Bears for child patients, or at the discretion of staff, children who have an unwell parent in ED.

Auckland-based freemason and chairman of the Loving Care Appeal Trust Tony Mansfield says over time, the trust (funded by Freemasons Lodges throughout New Zealand) plans to gift the bears to hospitals nationwide.

“Whanganui Hospital is one the earlier ones to receive the bears because Freemasons want to focus their efforts on the smaller regional DHBs before we reach out to the country’s largest ones,” Mr Mansfield says.

“The idea of giving Teddy Bears to Emergency Departments was driven by the North Island Freemason lodges who heard of a UK initiative that has seen more than 2 million teddies gifted to children.

“We implemented this project in 2017 to celebrate 300 years of freemasonry. It’s a three-year commitment which we hope to extend if funding allows.”

Mr Mansfield says the 140 Teddy Bears gifted last week is their ‘first shipment of bears’ that Whanganui’s ED will receive.

“When they run low I’ve told Carla O’Keeffe (ED/CCU clinical nurse manager) to contact me and I will arrange for more to be ‘shipped in’.”

Mrs O’Keeffe says she and her colleagues are delighted and very touched by the gift.

“I know they will go a long way to comforting children requiring our care,” Mrs O’Keeffe says. “I think it’s the first time we’ve received such a gift so it’s pretty special.”