The Emergency Department at Whanganui Hospital will now be able to offer a cuddly friend to children who need it.

The Freemasons have donated 140 teddy bears to the District Health Board as part of a nationwide initiative.

The teddy bears will be given to children aged 2 to 7 at the emergency department to help them relax.

They'll also be given to children whose parents are getting care.


Chairman of the Loving Care Appeal Trust and Auckland Freemason, Tony Mansfield, said Whanganui was one of the first to get the bears.

"Whanganui Hospital is one of the earlier ones to receive the bears because Freemasons want to focus their efforts on the smaller regional DHBs before we reach out to the country's largest ones," Mansfield said.

The Freemasons got the idea about the initiative from their United Kingdom counterparts.

"The idea of giving teddy bears to emergency departments was driven by the North Island Freemason lodges who heard of a UK initiative that has seen more than 2 million teddies gifted to children.

"We implemented this project in 2017 to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry. It's a three-year commitment which we hope to extend if funding allows."

The emergency department's clinical nurse manager, Carla O'Keeffe, said she and her colleagues were delighted by the soft toys.

"I know they will go a long way to comforting children requiring our care," O'Keeffe said.

"I think it's the first time we've received such a gift so it's pretty special."

The Freemasons have told the DHB they will ship more bears for the ED if and when needed.