'One of the very first pictures taken of me is with me lying on the bed beside my Hospital Teddy. The teddy is bigger than me!

Since being born, HOSPITAL, as he became known, was a constant companion.  He lived in my bed and was read stories by me.  He came on holiday with me and was the natural choice for a Brownies teddy bear picnic.
His nose was pulled off at some point and lovingly replaced with a button by my Mum.  One evening, when reading in bed, he lay against a lamp and his ear was burnt off.  (At first I thought Mum had burnt Dad’s dinner!) This was covered up by a big red bow sewed onto the remains of his right ear.

 ‘Hospital 2’ you see in the picture; appeared on my bed with a tag attached on my 18th birthday. He is a replica of the teddy that was given to me very shortly after I was born, by the neonatal nurse that cared for me.

Hospital came on holiday and this is how he was lost.  I think I was about 10 years old.  Old enough to feel a bit silly taking a teddy on holiday but young enough still to feel guilty at the thought of leaving him behind.  On a ferry home from Germany, he fell out of my bag and was lost forever.  It took my parents 8 years of searching to find a similar teddy.  Hospital 2 is a much loved reminder of the original Hospital.

I was born in the 1970s 10 weeks premature and with a twin brother.  In those days that was very early and it was by no means certain that I would survive. My twin brother survived only 24 hours after we were born.  Only by the care and love of a whole team of doctors and nurses (some of whom we are still in touch with today) did I survive.

I don’t know who first called him “Hospital Teddy” but he was probably referred to as such from before I could speak.  The simple reason for his name – he was given to me while I was in hospital.  

Although very literal, this was one of the more exotic names given to my childhood toys.  I had a bunny called bunny, rabbit called rabbit a penguin called penguin. 

As a toddler Hospital stayed in my bed to be returned to each night.  Many other toys have come and gone, many played with more than Hospital but he has always been there in my bed waiting to comfort me.

My relationship with Hospital now is a reminder of the love and care that created me, brought me into the world and kept me alive and still does.

He has disappeared once with mixed feelings.  I felt silly for missing him because 10 year old girls don’t need a teddy to cuddle at night!  
What I realise now it that Hospital was a symbol, not only of child hood comfort but of the story of my birth and upbringing.  A reminder of the grief of my parents for a brother lost and the fight to keep me alive.   My family went out to Australia recently; we had lunch with the nurse who gave me the original Hospital Teddy.  The meeting brought back memories so raw for my Mum that she burst into tears.'

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