A MOTHER has turned her hobby of making teddy bears into a business in memory of her daughter.
Lesley Harrison’s life was torn apart when her only daughter Janine, an 18-year-old teaching student, was killed as a bus went out of control and ploughed into a queue of passengers at Sunderland’s central bus station.
As it comes up to the 13th anniversary of the tragedy on December 1 – which also took the life of mum-of-two Nicola Anderson, 26, of Roker – Lesley is finding comfort in her new venture of making memory bears, which are manufactured from the clothing of loved ones.
Lesley, 56, who was living in Twickenham Road, Thorney Close, at the time of the tragedy, said: “I got into sewing after we lost Janine.
“It became a sort of therapy for my grief. I made dolls’ clothes for my nieces and that sort of thing.
“Then I heard about memory bears, which are popular in America, and thought I would have a go at making teddy bears and became totally hooked on it.”
Lesley, who moved with her husband, Derek, 58, to Durham following the death of Janine, a former Thornhill School pupil, said she has already made a number of memory bears for people and they have proved so popular she decided to set up as a business.
The grandmother-of-one said: “The whole bear is made from the items of clothing which are special to the family.
“I have made one for someone out of a red coat their aunt used to wear, and one elderly man was thrilled with a bear I made from his late wife’s dressing gown and her carer’s uniform.
“Sewing helped me with my grief, and it is lovely through the bears to be able to help others who are grieving.”
Lesley, who suffers from ME, stressed the person does not have to have died to make a memory bear out of their clothing.
It can be anything special, for example making a bear out of a child’s christening outfit or first school uniform.