TLC listens to deaf childrenFor some years now Freemasons throughout England & Wales have been involved with their local hospitals Doctors and children’s services giving nurses and Doctors the opportunity to help a child while distressed in a hospital or surgery situation by giving their young patients a teddy to hold and keep, or for the nurses to show them that there is nothing to fear with the treatment they are going to receive by practicing on Teddy first.

Here in Devon the initiative started in 2008 and since then the Freemasons have given 37,000 teddy’s under the title of “Teddy’s for Loving Care”( TLC) to children through the North Devon Hospital, the RDNE Exeter, Torbay Hospital and Derriford Hospital Plymouth as well as many other medical establishments who specialise in the care of children, including the North Devon Children’s Hospice.

Recently W. Bro. Keith Bower (Teddy Master) along with W. Bro. Andy Harris from the Freemasons visited the Audiology Department at Derriford hospital and met with Dr. Stuart Harris the Head of the Audiology Service along with three members of his staff Kinga Slowiakowska, Bebakah Crocker, and Alice Wildgoose. They all work within the children’s audiology service in the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust which covers the surrounding boroughs of Devon & Cornwall.

Their service comprises of four main elements, newborn hearing screening, community hearing assessments, specialist hearing services and transitional services, Their primary aim is to identify children with permanent hearing impairment at the earliest  opportunity and then support the child and their parents as they develop. They also support children with balance disorders, tinnitus, and other otological needs. They work closely with a wide team of professionals including ENT Paediatrics, speech therapy, maternity, health visitors and GP’s along with advisory teachers of the deaf and SENCO’s.

On receiving the first delivery of Teddy’s Dr. Stuart Harris said

“The generous donation of Teddies by the freemasons of Devonshire will mean that whenever a deaf child and their families find the need to relax within a strange environment and be able to enjoy the experience I am sure a teddy will help them cope."

W.Bro. Keith Bower who is in charge of the initiative here in Devon promised that this was only the first donation of as many Teddies as were needed by the Audiology department in the future.