Mum launches teddy appeal to give children a hug in memory of her son

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mum Lynda Banks surrounded by a pile of cuddly teddies Mum Lynda Banks surrounded by a pile of cuddly teddies

A grieving mother in Bradford has started a teddy bear appeal for children needing extra hugs.

Hundreds of cuddly bears have been collected and handed out to The Children’s Society and children’s hospital wards in memory of Robert Banks, who died aged 30 after a life-long battle against a condition so rare that initially no-one could identify it.

Mourners each brought a teddy to Robert’s funeral at Nab Wood Cemetery, Shipley, earlier this month to start off the appeal which his mother Lynda, of Little Horton, says will now become an annual campaign.

And families around the country, including Plymouth in Devon, are also collecting teddies for the appeal and distributing them where they live in the hope of giving other children the same comfort and love Robert got from his cuddly friends.

Robert, who had a limited vocabulary and the mental age of a five-year-old, loved his teddies and was hardly ever seen without one, said Mrs Banks, 62, whose older son Philip, 36, also has the rare condition doctors at Great Ormond Street eventually identified as Opitz-Kaveggla Syndrome.

Typically children with the syndrome are born with blue eyes and blond hair. At first it was thought that only boys were affected but decades on it is now more widely recognised and it is found to affect girls too.

Doctors in the 1980s had told Mrs Banks her little boys would not live to be teenagers, would never, walk, talk or sit up but she refused to give up on them.

“I was told there was nothing I could do about it but I was not going to give up on my boys. We were going to live our lives as full as we could and take each day as it came,” she said.

Widowed Mrs Banks, said Robert’s death had left her devastated although she was greatful for all the extra years she had with him.

“This was a happening house when Robert was alive. He was always playful and on the go, he was like a child. Without him it feels like a dead place but I know we have to move forward,” she said.

She is hoping the teddy bear appeal will be a positive way of keeping Robert’s memory alive and added: “Robert loved his teddies. He loved them and got loved back. We hope by giving teddies to other children they will get as much loving as he did.”

Robert died on November 23 after a seizure at home. Mrs Banks said: “He was such a character. No-one could ever forget him – even if they only met him the once.”

Next year’s teddies appeal will start in November, to find out more go to teddies4tickles.wix.com

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