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Founder of Bobby Buddies - Suffolk and Norfolk says the contributions from Haverhill have been 'incredible'

The founder of a scheme that invites people to make soft toys that police officers can give to children in times of distress has heaped praise on the contributions flooding in from Haverhill.

Bobby Buddies - Suffolk and Norfolk Facebook group was set up last October by Lianne Gerrish, who lives in Great Cornard and whose husband is Pc Jon Gerrish, the community engagement officer for Haverhill and Sudbury.

The idea is for people to knit or crochet small soft toys to help comfort small children affected by crime and provide them with reassurance.

Mrs Gerrish said the commitment to the cause shown by folk in Haverhill, where The Craft Basket, in Queens Square, and Snobby Eddy Crafts, at the Menta Business Centre in Hollands Road, and St Mary’s Church have become official drop-off points.

“I didn’t expect it to take off quite as it did. I thought I would get a few knitting groups and a little trickle of bears coming through and it would be nice but I couldn’t have really got it more wrong because it’s exploded.

Debby Dyson, owner of Snobby Eddy Crafts, woth some of the Bobby Buddies (6393519)
Debby Dyson, owner of Snobby Eddy Crafts, woth some of the Bobby Buddies (6393519)

“From the Craft Basket and Snobby Eddy we’ve had 137 bears. That’s what we’ve collected. There is actually more more to collect already. They are magnificent. They are toy-making machines. They’ve just been incredible.

“The knitting group that is ridiculously productive is the U3A (in Haverhill). They’ve been amazing and they’ve really embraced it. They are absolutely wonderful.”

Anyone can make the soft toys, but they must be crocheted or knitted and need to be of a size that can be easily handled by a young child and easy to store and carry in police vehicles.

The toys must not have any loose accessories and must have sewn facial features.

Sue Vallis with some of the bears dropped off at her shop, The Craft Basket (6368246)
Sue Vallis with some of the bears dropped off at her shop, The Craft Basket (6368246)

The toys will be collected at the drop-off points and safety checked before being taken to police stations.

Mrs Gerrish admits having her husband working as the police community engagement officer in the Sudbury and Haverhill division is very handy, as he can take the toys to the police stations once they have been safety checked, after which officers will keep some in the cars.

The scheme now has drop-off points throughout Suffolk, said Mrs Gerrish, such has been its growth.

She added: “It is now a completely huge team effort and people are just giving up their time willingly and i’m quite humbled by it.

“The kids love them, “ added Mrs Gerrish.

“We’ve actually already had some given out to children and I was chuffed to hear they were being used.

“We are always looking for new recruits and drop off points as well.”

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