PORLOCK Visitor Centre manager Debbie Stanyon could bearly believe her eyes when she opened a surprise box of knitted teddies created by a mystery knitter.

Debbie came into the Visitor Centre on Monday, August 3, to find the surprise package had arrived.

On opening the donation, she found an amazing 29 hand-knitted teddy bears, each personalised to depict each business, group or individual that has kept Porlock going during the coronavirus pandemic.

The teddies were donated by an anonymous designer and knitter, who did leave a note explaining the Front Line Teddies concept.

Mrs Stanyon said: "The detail on each teddy is fantastic, the Town Crier has a black tricorn hat and red coat, the Parish Council has the colours of their logo, the butcher is wearing his butchers apron, the recycling men are wearing their orange overalls, Porlock Medical Centre are wearing scrubs and masks and our wonderful NHS are wearing rainbow colours.

"These bears will be delivered by volunteers organised by the Visitor Centre and we are delighted to be asked to help with such a unique and special thank you to our wonderful community.

"Although the real thanks must go to this anonymous knitter who designed and knitted every bear with love and appreciation for our village."

The letter which came with the teddies states: "Early in lockdown a friend emailed to ask if I could make a Covid teddy for her to give to a key NHS worker and she included a link for the pattern download.

"This turned out to be an American pattern for a crochet teddy and I can't crochet. I couldn’t find a knitting pattern equivalent so by trial and error I designed what I have now come to call a Frontline Teddy, in scrubs and wearing a mask."

The mystery knitter said they were inspired to show their appreciation after seeing the community spirit shown by various volunteers and organisations the keep residents informed and positive during lockdown.

There are teddies for Porlock Pharmacy, Spar, Squires, the Town Crier, Porlock Parish Council, the local recycling men, all of the volunteers and Good Neighbours, Kitnors, NHS 111, paramedics, One Stop, Porlock Hardware and many more.

With Porlock having the oldest population per capita of any village in the UK, with 40 per cent of residents aged 65 or older.

Because so many residents had to shield during lockdown, volunteers, local businesses and organisations rallied together to help ensure no-one felt isolated or went without.

The Porlock Community Initiative was organised jointly by the Porlock Visitor Centre and Porlock Parish Council, and within five days around 120 volunteers stepped forward to help, and more than 800 information leaflets were delivered to households.

The village has also had a socially-distanced VE Day garden party during lockdown.