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Wiltshire cleric resurrects washed-up teddy bear

20 January 2023

Eleanor Rance/Diocese of Salisbury

The bear, Sinbad, on his first day of restoration

The bear, Sinbad, on his first day of restoration

THE head of a teddy bear found washed up on a Cornish beach a year ago has been lovingly repaired, and the bear has been made whole, by a Wiltshire priest.

The Rector of Shrewton, Canon Eleanor Rance, offered to restore the bear after Tracey Williams posted on Twitter a picture of the head nestled in seaweed as part of her documentation of beach discoveries to raise awareness of the plight of the oceans.

The bear was posted to Canon Rance’s home address, where she washed it multiple times. Her son named the bear Sinbad in honour of his ocean journey.

Canon Rance, who is a former RAF chaplain, said: “When I saw the Twitter post, I thought he looked so sad, but that he could have a lot of life left in him still. I offered to try and restore him, and he arrived in a cardboard envelope, smelling strongly of the sea. He was completely caked in seaweed and had stones and tiny shells in his ears.”

Eleanor Rance/Diocese of SalisburySinbad, fully restored with a new body, out in the community

She washed him several times and stitched the holes in his face. “His eyes and nose were still there and had become opaque, like sea glass. He must have been in the sea for ages. He must have been loved very much once, but there is no way of knowing who he belonged to.”

Once his head was mended, Canon Rance set about matching him to a new body. She posted each step on Twitter with pictures which that have attracted wide interest. After taking Sinbad into a care home to visit residents, and into schools for assemblies, she suggests that he now has a future as a therapy bear.

Efforts are still being made to trace his ocean journey. A marine biologist in Shrewton has offered to examine the pieces of seaweed kept from his fur to see whether they provide clues to how long he spent at sea, and where he may have travelled.

Canon Rance said: “The fact that he was battered and wounded but could still have a life and a future — it’s a story we all understand and relate to. People who meet him want to love and care for him, as I did.”

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