A PRUDHOE woman - with the help of the community - has collected around 1,500 teddy bears for children in Ukraine.

Nearly 80-years-ago, Catherine Heaton's mother in law fled war-torn, Nazi-occupied Vienna; she arrived in England where she was housed in a hostel for refugees and put to work in the cotton mills of Lancashire. 

Touched by her struggle, Catherine, of Mary's Snowflake Creations, which makes hand-knitted, crocheted items, was inspired to help those also fleeing conflict years later.

"She would be in despair watching the events unfolding", Catherine said of her mother in law, Maria Ellen Steiner.

"The horrors she witnessed never left her and we are watching a whole new generation being exposed to the atrocities perpetrated by yet another maniacal dictator.

"Bears are the tiniest tribute to her and I can only hope that they bring a shred of comfort to a little person, knowing that someone somewhere afar cares.

"I’m a woman who gets an idea and then nags and badgers until my mission is productive; it went a bit nuts and my mission is reaching a lot of people now."

Each bear has the poem -  War Teddies by Abigail Horne - translated into Ukrainian attached to it.

The bears are sent to distribution stations at reception centres via the Polish Centre in Newcastle and a warehouse in Delaval.

Catherine has been helped by a team of helpers; husband Chris, Lisa, Tracey, Annette and Christine, Mark, Nia, Andy, Amy and Chris.

Anyone with bears to donate should contact: https://www.facebook.com/Bears-for-Ukraine-109312065047240/

Mary's Snowflake Creations raises money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and during lockdown, created postbox hats in Prudhoe.