YOUNGSTERS at a Somerset hospice were left happy after a special delivery of teddy bears.

St Margaret's Hospice Care received 72 small, brightly-coloured bears as part of the Somerset Freemasons' 'Teddies for Loving Care' (TLC) scheme. 

The teddy bears will be used by the family support, bereavement and wider clinical teams. They work with children and young adults when they lose a parent or close family member.

The bears will be housed at both of St Margaret's hubs in Yeovil and Taunton before finding new homes with families the hospice support across the county. 

Penny Moorcraft, the family support therapist at St Margaret's Hospice Care, said: "We envisage that these bears will bring huge comfort and will be enormously helpful as we support children who are recently bereaved.

"For some, these bears will become important companions at a funeral, or children can perhaps bring their teddy to therapy and bereavement group sessions where they will act as a positive reminder of their parent, or perhaps a grandparent, therefore helping with the grieving process." 

The TLC scheme has been running for 20 years and is managed locally by volunteers with the Somerset Freemasons. 

Since the scheme was introduced in 2001, over 2.5 million teddies have been distributed to hospitals and hospices throughout England and Wales. 

Roger Penny, the TLC scheme coordinator for Somerset, hand-delivered the bears to the hospice in Yeovil after learning how the teddies could be incorporated into the therapeutic work of the teams. 

He said: "I had the privilege of visiting the hospice and meeting the staff there and was impressed by the standard of facilities and care and was touched to hear about the services they provide.

"I am delighted that we are able to introduce this scheme to the hospices of Somerset and help the young children at such a difficult time in their lives." 

Richard Winter, a Somerset Freemasons executive member who joined Roger in making the delivery, said: "Somerset Freemasons help the community in many ways and TLC is just a small example of how we do this. We are pleased to provide these bears and are glad they will be helpful." 

St Margaret's Hospice cares for people with life-limiting illnesses and supports patients, families and carers. 

Last year, the hospice supported more than 5,000 people across Somerset, and most of their patients are cared for in their own homes.

St Margaret's is supported by more than 1,200 volunteers who help care for people at the end of their lives.