We all remember the recent heart-breaking scenes of Afghan refugee families forced to flee their country.
Many of the young children on landing at Heathrow airport were given a TLC teddy to provide some much-needed comfort and a welcome to their new home. Something that was well-received, having been through such a traumatic experience.
Middlesex Freemason, Paul Sully, who is also a volunteer with London Search and Rescue, was at Heathrow to welcome the refugees. Paul realised that Teddies for Loving Care, usually given by Freemasons to children in hospital, could help provide a little bit of comfort to the youngest arrivals. Paul immediately contacted the Middlesex TLC team and was able to secure 360 bears for the start of his next shift. Essex TLC and the Masonic Charitable Foundation also responded to Paul’s call with further donations of teds for the children. Paul said:
To see the sad faces of young toddlers walking up the gangway into the terminal building was something I will not forget for a while. However, the huge smiles from the same children when they received the TLC Bears will remain with me for the rest of my life. I have never felt more proud to be a Freemason
Steve McGowan, Operations Director of London Search and Rescue said:
On behalf of London Search and Rescue I want to thank you for helping us make a positive difference and bring a smile to so many children at a time when they needed it the most. As a charity, London Search and Rescue were asked to deploy at short notice to support the British Red Cross in the Afghan resettlement scheme. Our volunteer members assisted the families with a welfare support system alongside the British Red Cross and other agencies. This provided families with immediate help with provisions, clothing and of course, the very popular TLC teddies
Huge thanks to TLC Middlesex and TLC Essex who donated 2,000 bears – and particularly Paul Craker and Noubar Manoukian from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex; and Robert Whittingham and Joe Curtis from Essex Freemasons.