A BEAR has been on the prowl in Teesside – visiting care homes in Stockton on Tees, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.
The homes, all operated by the Hill Care Group, were celebrating National Hug a Bear Day by inviting the big cuddly mascot to meet the residents.
It then dropped into The Gables Care Home, in Middlesbrough, before finishing the tour at Queens Meadow Care Home, in Hartlepool.
Sarah Robinson, activities coordinator for Mandale House, said: “I thought it would be a lovely way for all of the homes to feel connected as one big Teesside team.
“I felt that all the people living in our homes would enjoy it but I was astonished at how popular a visit from a life-sized teddy bear was to many of the residents.”
Mandale House manager Michael Allen took on the role of the teddy bear, dressing up to bring smiles to the residents faces.
He said: “I thought Sarah’s idea was a great one. Who doesn’t love hugging a teddy after all.
“And it was great our sister homes got on board with such enthusiasm.
“I was taken aback by the response of the residents. People we didn’t expect to want to be involved really threw themselves into hugging.
“As an experience, it was both humbling and hilarious. Humbling to see the joy of the residents as they hugged the bear. And Hilarious as they had lots of funny, cheeky things to say.”
One of those residents was Margot Morris, from Mandale House, who has a collection of soft toys and was thrilled to see a full size, walking, talking bear. She said: “I love teddies and I love a cuddle.”
Other residents gave the bear hugs, kisses and strokes. Resident Alwyn Behan, from The Beeches, said: “I’d like to hug you forever.”