Brave Teddy bears take flight from Blundeston tower

A Teddy bear parachuting bonanza was even more popular than usual after it returned from a two-year absence.

St Mary the Virgin’s round tower was the launch site for almost 200 Teddy Bears, which made the descent to raise funds for the church.

It was staged alongside the popular village flower festival, which had the theme: “Thank you to the NHS” and raised more than £2,000 for church funds.

Fine weather for the last July weekend ensured success for the annual flower festival and the Teddy bear parachuting at Blundeston, near Lowestoft.

The bears took flight after high winds and rain had forced the 2019 event to be cancelled.

It was started in the early 2000s, partly because her fellow churchwarden, Mrs Iris Mayes, who ran a bed & breakfast, was told of a parachuting bear fundraiser by a guest. Mrs Shaw’s late husband, Colin, helped to start the event, which has become so popular.

On Saturday, 74 bears were taken to the top of the tower with just over 100 on Sunday, July 25 – raising £175. Mrs Shaw’s daughter Claire even had to produce dozens more certificates for the youngsters, which were awarded after the Teddy doctor Vanessa Crawford completed her “medical” inspection. The oldest Teddy to make the descent was a mere 84 years old from local farmer David Jermy.

Mrs Shaw, added: “All the flower arrangements were provided by individuals or organisations in the village. We were pleased to welcome Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who praised the efforts of all those involved and particularly highlighted other tributes from Blundeston Pre-school and a pictorial display from Blundeston Primary School.”

The weather favoured smaller teddies who drifted gracefully to the ground. Mrs Shaw and helpers made the parachutes based on the original design used for a “distress” rocket.

A weekend craft fair at the church will be held on October 8 and 9. Now Mrs Shaw will be hard at work making “Russians” – a rug and cushion – containing a fleece inside a cushion and a bargain at £10 each.

Photograph: Mick Howes.