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A 5-foot (1.5m) tall teddy bear checked in at London Southend Airport on Tuesday 16 July and took his very own seat on the 9.15am Aer Lingus Regional departure to Dublin.


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‘Big Ted’ is the mascot of TLC – Teddies for Loving Care – an international charity that was set up in Southend-on-Sea in 2001. He was travelling to Dublin for the launch of TLC in Ireland.


TLC provides teddy bears to A&E units, for the medical staff to gift to children who are in distress and where a teddy to cuddle will help alleviate the stress and assist staff in their work. TLC has already provided 1.2 million teddy bears to children in the UK, USA & South Africa, Gibraltar and Cyprus.


TLC was launched by Ian Simpson from Leigh-on-Sea. He says “My wife was resuscitated at Southend Hospital following an allergic reaction which closed her windpipe. We both found the experience the most frightening of our lives and wanted to do something to help A&E units. TLC was the result and has been made possible by the dedication and generosity of local Freemasons. We are really grateful to Aer Lingus Regional and London Southend Airport for being so supportive and helping make the trip to our Irish launch so simple and stress free.”


Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Aer Arann, have given Big Ted his own seat next to Ian and his wife for their trip to Ireland for the launch of TLC Ireland at Our Ladies Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin.


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Simon Fagan, Aer Arann Chief commercial Officer said ‘ We are delighted to be able to facilitate Big Ted on his first trip to Dublin and help the charity do it’s great work. The launch of TLC Ireland will be of great benefit to the children of Our Ladies Children’s hospital Crumlin, a truly worthy cause’


London Southend Airport MD Alastair Welch said “We were very happy to be able to help such a fantastic locally based charity and we wish them all the best with their launch in Ireland.”