Therapy dolls, a cat and a dog have been donated to a Hebburn care home by a fundraising nine-year-old.
Lola Thompson, who attends St James’ RC Primary School, took on a sponsored walk to support residents at Willowdene Care Home, on Victoria Road West.
The charitable pupil completed five laps around Hebburn Park and raised over £700, which she used to buy five therapy dolls, as well as a lifelike cat and dog.
Both the dolls and fluffy animals have therapeutic benefits for those living with dementia, helping with reminiscence, communication, and activity levels, among other benefits.
Lola’s mother, Alix Thompson said: “Lola has always loved her baby dolls and they have given her a lot of comfort over the years.
“When we found out about dementia dolls and how much comfort they could bring she was very keen to try and raise a little money to see if we could donate one or two dolls.
“We put a message out on Facebook asking if anyone would like to sponsor her, and we were absolutely blown away by the donations which came in from family, friends and the local community.
“We are very grateful to everyone who sponsored Lola and are delighted to hear that the residents at Willowdene are enjoying their new babies and pets. I am very proud of Lola for what she has achieved.”
Harry West, 77, a resident at Willowdene Care Home, is unable to talk due to advanced dementia but smiles while cradling one of the therapy dolls.
Fellow resident Joe Malone, 84, has been singing lullabies to another doll and Ann Oliver, 77, is now inseparable from another. When she first saw the dolls, she said: “Come here and let me give you a cuddle.”
The dog has been adopted by Jessie Hann, 92, who has named him Davey and enjoys grooming him. She said: “I love that staff and residents keep visiting my room to see how Davey is.”
Meanwhile the cat, who is yet to be named, has been taken in by Linda Whiting, 67, who said: “She’s my best friend. I love looking after her in my room.”
Christine Chandler, activities coordinator at Willowdene Care Home, said: “The dolls and animals have had a profound effect on the residents, who have been showering attention on them.
“Therapy dolls and pets have proven to be highly therapeutic for those living with dementia. They can bring back fond memories, provide comfort and companionship, deliver a soothing, joyful experience, improve communication, boost activity levels, and have a positive effect on mood and wellbeing.
“We can’t thank Lola and Alix enough for thinking of Willowdene Care Home. It’s amazing that someone so young could think about doing something so wonderful for the elderly residents of our town.”