Cab firm backs Lynda's teddies appeal

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Taxi firm boss Khurram Shehzad with Lynda Banks Taxi firm boss Khurram Shehzad with Lynda Banks

A Bradford cab business has pledged £500 towards a teddy bear appeal started by a grieving mother for children needing extra hugs.

Fleet owner Khurram Shehzad, who runs Local Cars, was so touched by Lynda Banks’s story after it appeared in the Telegraph & Argus that he has stepped in to help.

Mrs Banks, 62, of Little Horton, started Robert’s Teddies appeal in memory of her 30-year-old son who died in November after battling a rare condition that doctors said meant he would not survive into his teenage years – her older son Philip, 36, also has it.

Hundreds of teddies in his memory were collected in Bradford by Mrs Banks and by other family in Devon to be handed out to children on hospital wards and through The Children’s Society and it is to become an annual appeal.

As well as giving £500 to the appeal Mr Shehzad says his drivers will collect teddies every year for the appeal because Mrs Banks and her family have been customers for more than 20 years.

He said: “Lynda and Robert have gone through a lot of difficulties over these years, it has not been easy but she always has a smile when we pick her up.

“Her priority was always Robert and her other boy. My drivers loved picking Robert up, he was such a sweet person – we will miss him too.”

Mr Shehzad added: “I want to give £500 to start off the appeal and all the drivers are going to collect teddies every year to give to Linda – we hope this helps.”

Mrs Banks said: “It’s a very kind gesture and proof there are some wonderful people out there willing to help. This year we managed to give hundreds of teddies and with the taxi drivers’ help there will be even more next Christmas.”

Robert had Opitz-Kaveggla Syndrome which left him with a limited vocabulary and the mental age of a five-year-old. He loved his teddies and was hardly ever seen without one.

At first it was thought that only boys with blue eyes and blond hair were affected by it 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.

Robert, who did go on to walk, died on November 23 after a seizure at home. His brother struggles with mobility.

Next year’s teddies appeal will start in November. To find out more go to www.teddies4tickles.wix.com/roberts-teddies.

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