The Great British Teddy Bear Company has created a range of five types of Armed Forces bears. Dressed to represent the Army, Bomber Command, Air Force, Navy and Veterans, the bears have been selling like hot cakes. Not only has the company sold every single one of its first batch of 5000 Armed Forces bears through advance orders, but it also has a huge waiting list of a further 4300 orders.
A delighted Paul Jessup, head of The Great British Teddy Bear Company, told us how the success came about, "Our initial aim was to make a great teddy bear for a good cause, but this became much bigger. Widows would talk to us about their brave husbands and thank us for helping keep their memory alive. Inspired by the Veterans we spoke to, we decided to create a range of Armed Forces Bears that could help our heroes and Veterans pass on their stories to family and friends. We also wanted to give something back to the current generation of heroes returning wounded and injured and looking for work."
So the company set about creating links with, and talking to, military charities and the Ministry of Defence. Through these links, Paul found out about the Poppy Factory, a charity initially set up to provide employment for wounded soldiers after the First World War. Today, that charity employs wounded ex-servicemen to make poppies for sale by the British Legion.
Paul explained his idea, "We could employ wounded ex-servicemen at the Poppy Factory in the UK to dress our armed forces bears, we would sell these bears to existing and retired military families to help them keep their heroic stories alive and we would donate £3 from the sale of each bear to the Poppy Factory to help them find other jobs for other heroes."
There’s little doubt that Paul’s successful idea, coupled with his company’s commitment to helping British war heroes, is already proving a huge benefit. The Great British Teddy Bear Company now plans to extend the Poppy factory’s range to include their other best selling bears: Bobby the Policeman; Florence the Nurse; and Sherlock the Detective. But the additional costs of manufacturing in the UK and donating a share of the proceeds to charity means that the bears won’t be sold at retail outlets. As Paul points out, "Our focus now is to continue to engage with customers in person, via mail and social media."
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- The Great British Teddy Bear Company
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