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Special-edition teddy bear raising funds for SSAFA

Special-edition teddy bear raising funds for SSAFA


24 Jul, 2020

A donation from the sale of each bear will go to the charity …

Britain’s oldest remaining teddy bear manufacturer, Merrythought, has collaborated with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity to create a teddy bear that will raise vital funds for members of the Armed Forces and their families.


The beautifully British-made collectable teddy bear, named James after SSAFA founder, Major James Gildea, has been specifically created during Merrythought’s 90th anniversary year to support the great work done by the charity. Fourth-generation managing director Sarah Holmes says the partnership is close to everyone’s hearts at Merrythought: ‘My grandfather, Trayton Holmes, proudly served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and Merrythought helped with the war effort, making various textile items such as gas mask covers, kit bags, and clothing.

‘Being able to support such a remarkable charity in the year we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, and remember those who fought for our freedom, is a true honour for Merrythought, especially as we celebrate our own milestone 90th anniversary this year, too.’

James Bear has been crafted from soft sandy-gold mohair plush and features pure wool felt paws. His nose and smile have been carefully hand-embroidered to give him a truly unique, friendly character. The special finishing touch is his pure wool tweed scarf, which has been exclusively woven in England to subtly incorporate SSAFA’s red and blue brand colours.

Rebecca Keaveney, head of commercial operations at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity says: ‘We are delighted to be working with Merrythought on this special-edition bear. This is a significant year for SSAFA as we celebrate our 135th year of supporting the military community in need – and also commemorate 75 years since the end of the war.

‘It is fitting for both of these special occasions that Merrythought has created a bespoke bear, named after our founder, that can be treasured for years to come. We hope that these bears will be passed down through generations ahead, along with the knowledge that the purchase of each one has made a difference to our nation’s Armed Forces family.’

Merrythought teddy bears are world renowned, each one handmade in a delicate, 15-stage process that uses the finest skills and natural materials. James Bear has been made in a limited edition of only 1885 pieces, to reflect the year SSAFA was founded, and is presented in a special-edition premium cotton drawstring bag.

The teddy bear is priced at £125 and is available from and other Merrythought stockists. Up to £12.50 for every James Bear sold will be paid in support of the charity.

For more information about the work of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, click here

About Merrythought

Merrythought has been hand-making the quintessential English teddy bear since 1930. Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the company is a fourth-generation family business and a true heritage brand, renowned worldwide for producing the finest British teddy bears.

The story of Merrythought began in 1930. William Gordon Holmes, owner of a spinning mill in Yorkshire, recognised the opportunity to make soft toys from his luxurious Angora goat fleece. He found a beautiful brick foundry building in the heart of Shropshire, and with the help of some skilled local seamstresses, Merrythought was born.

Our heritage is something we are immensely proud of, and the original workshop in Ironbridge, Shropshire, remains Merrythought’s home to this day – a magical place where each teddy bear is brought to life using the finest materials and traditional craftsmanship that has been handed down the four generations of our unique company.

Since only teddy bears of the highest quality are allowed to carry the trusted Merrythought woven label, we ensure the utmost care and attention to detail in everything that we do, right down to the hand-embroidered nose and smile that gives each teddy bear its own personality. A Merrythought is not just a teddy bear but an exquisite piece of British heritage and a loyal companion through life.

About SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity

SSAFA has been providing lifelong support to the Armed Forces, veterans and their families since 1885. As the UK’s oldest, tri-service, military charity, SSAFA continues to provide tailored practical, emotional and financial support, and helped more than 85,000 people in need last year.

Merrythought is working with SSAFA in its mission to support the military family in need, through sales and by raising the profile of the vital work of the charity.

For 135 years SSAFA has been supporting our Armed Forces. To find out more, donate and help SSAFA continue its important work, click here

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