Freemason Andrew Bull works for the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, who are the mental health and learning disability Trust for County Durham, Darlington, and Teesside. North End House in County Durham is a base for their community affective team and it is here that they hold their first of three, ‘Winter Wonderland,’ events in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) garden.
Young people from the gardening group transform the garden shed into a Christmas Grotto and welcome visitors to the event.
The North End House team dresses up as elves, with Andrew stepping into the role of Santa (whilst he’s not busy at the North Pole). Families and carers of the young people all enjoy taking part in the festive activities on offer.
Now Andrew became aware that their ‘Winter Wonderland,’ was having an issue. It was due to open on the 8th of December when the staff bring Santa’s Grotto to life but presents for children were in short supply and Andrew wondered if the TLC Teddies (Teddies for Loving Care) would help. TLC Teddies are small Teddy Bears bearing a label simply stating ‘Donated by local Freemasons,’ these are distributed to the Accident and Emergency Units and Child hospice and Respite Care Centre’s in County Durham and are given at the medical staff’s discretion to young patients to help alleviate distress. (Over 110,000 to date)
After consultation with TLC Coordinator and Freemason Duncan Maw, Andrew was advised that the TLC Teddies are to specifically provide Teddies for use in Children’s A & E Units, but not to be thwarted the Durham Freemason’s Benevolent Committee were so impressed with the impact of the confidence building work being undertaken, and wishing to support the young people and their families, they provided funds to purchase 100 Teddies for Santa to distribute.
Andrew and his team’s vision is for the ‘Winter Wonderland,’ to offer a Christmas experience for those who may not be fortunate enough to meet Santa elsewhere due to the rising cost of living, or for those impacted by their mental health who feel they would not be able to attend mainstream visits. The Freemasons of Durham were glad to play a small part in helping this to be successfully achieved.
Merry Christmas to you all.