Writer pens tale of teddy's Indian travels
A Marlborough teddy's big adventure is giving Paddington Bear a run for his money when it comes to travelling the globe.
The tale of a teddy bear called William has captured hearts here and abroad.
Unlike his perpetually hungry counterpart who is famous for visiting Peru, William has more than marmalade sandwiches on his mind and is helping raise awareness about a serious disease.
Blenheim author Beverley Cross and her bear travelled to northern India with Christian charity, Leprosy Mission.
Their epic journey graces the pages of Beverley's first book; a children's tale called William's Story.
The small, hairy bear, from Ballantynes department store in Christchurch, became something of a star during his time in India, Beverley says.
"Everybody wanted to hold him and have their photo taken with him.
"It was a last-minute decision to take William along but I thought he'd help break down barriers and he did.
"He was a really popular visitor, people loved him," she says.
William, a 2011 special edition earthquake bear, travelled in style in Cross's hand luggage. She made him a tiny passport to hang around his neck.
The journey was the second time Beverley had visited the leprosy hospital in Faizabad. She first went in 2005 to fulfil a dream she had as a 5-year old.
"I met a couple of elderly missionary ladies who had returned from the Mission fields of India and China and their stories stayed with me. I knew I wanted to go there too," she says.
Beverley went on to train as a nurse at Christchurch Public Hospital. Throughout a long and varied career, which also saw her work as a policewoman and as a pharmacy technician, she never lost sight of her dream.
In 2000 she made her first visit to northern India where she helped in the operating theatre of the leprosy hospital.
She credits her deep faith with helping her return to the area and feels she is meant to return for a third and final time.
"I wanted to help get word out about the important work the Leprosy Mission are doing.
"Most people have a vision that someone with leprosy will be quite disabled, with missing fingers and toes. The reality is that it can be treated if people know what to look for and early signs are spotted.
"William gave children bear hugs and was there to make children feel a bit better.
"He was a star," Beverley says.
William's Story is available through publishers Prisma Print for $15. Visit prismaprint.co.nz.
- The Marlborough Express