A teddy bear’s head found washed up on a beach in Cornwall has been repaired and the bear made whole in a labour of love by a Wiltshire priest.
Rev Canon Eleanor Rance responded to a Twitter post a year ago from Tracey Williams, who posts about her beach discoveries as part of her environmental mission to raise awareness of the plight of oceans. Tracey found the remains of a bear on a beach after the January storms last year. Missing a body, the head was nestled in seaweed.
Eleanor asked if she could try and restore the bear and he was posted to her home in Shrewton, Wiltshire.
He required lots of washing as his remaining fur was coated in seaweed and sand, and Eleanor also found shells, stones and a tiny piece of coral embedded in him. Her son named the bear Sinbad in honour of his ocean journey, and a year’s repair work began.
Eleanor, who is Rector of Salisbury Plain and a former RAF chaplain, had never tried restoring a teddy bear before but enjoys sewing. She said: “When I saw the Twitter post, I though he looked so sad but that he could have a lot of life left in him still. I offered to try and restore him and he arrived in a cardboard envelope, smelling strongly of the sea. He was completely caked in seaweed and had stones and tiny shells in his ears.”
First, she mended the holes in his face and realised that he was still fluffy behind the ears. She would stitch parts of him together whenever she had a spare moment.
“His eyes and nose were still there and had become opaque, like sea glass. He must have been in the sea for ages. He must have been loved very much once, but there is no way of knowing who he belonged to.”
Once his head was mended, Eleanor set about matching him to a new body and realised he was a large bear, around 50 centimetres high.
She has posted the steps of Sinbad’s recovery on Twitter to huge responses from people around the world. After taking Sinbad into a care home to visit residents, and into schools for assemblies, observing how people respond to his story, he now has a future as a therapy bear.
Efforts are still being made to trace his ocean journey.
Eleanor carefully kept all the pieces of seaweed that fell out of his fur, and a marine biologist in Shrewton has offered to examine them to see if they throw up some clues as to how long he spent at sea, and where he may have travelled on the currents.
Eleanor said: “The fact that he was battered and wounded but could still have a life and a future – it’s a story we all understand and relate to. People who meet him want to love and care for him, as I did.”
You can read the full thread of Sinbad’s journey to recovery on Twitter @LegoLostAtSea.
Photos credit Eleanor Rance.