We long ago realised that simply holding out the begging bowl would not meet our needs: a unique concept was needed. Step forward Sgt Slingsby
Sgt Slingsby is, to put it bluntly, a teddy bear. However, he is no ordinary teddy bear. With a long lineage, dashing good looks and a cheeky grin, the Sgt and his ever-growing team roam the world, being photographed, raising awareness and drumming up support. ‘Bearers’ offer to take one of the team on holiday, operations or any place of interest, take photographs, write up an interesting story, collect donations and drive awareness of Holidays4Heroes.
You might find the Sgt or one of his team in a Harrier of the Naval Strike Wing in Afghanistan, holding down lunch in a Lynx of the Army Air Corps Blue Eagles Display Team, taking part in a sporting challenge, sitting on the lap of Gurkha Pun VC, umpiring an Eastenders charity cricket match, cheering for the Army rugby team, doing frankly disturbing things with Vikings on the Shetland Islands, posing in Downing Street or simply enjoying the sun and thongs in Brazil and other sunny places.
In fact, they have left their paw-prints on every continent, and visited about three dozen countries! A selection of their visit locations are shown on their Travel Map.
We also have a dedicated and committed team (or is that ‘should be’ committed!) that manage the endeavor.
If you are going somewhere interesting, or want to join in, let us know via the contact menu.
Meet The Team …
Sgt Slingsby is our Founder Bear, and was first launched on an unsuspecting world in 2003. He’s a limited edition, from Clinton Cards, and as they have all been sold he is thus irreplaceable! He originally wore a maroon beret with the badge of the Glider Pilot Regiment – genuine items that jumped into Arnhem in 1944 – but they were sadly lost. He now wears the blue beret of the Army Air Corps, and is badged as a sergeant pilot. His Parachutist wings remind us of the Parachute Regiment that jumped into Arnhem, and the fact that the Army Air Corps originally comprised both the Glider Pilot Regiment and the Parachute Regiment. Slingsby has completed a tour of “duty” in Afghanistan, and thus wears the Operational Service Medal.
WO2 Hamilcar is the largest of the Bears, and has tended to be restricted to UK missions for the convenience of the Bearer. However, the demand for Bears has forced him out of his “comfort zone” and in 2009 he started doing overseas deployments. He’s also badged as an AAC aircrewman, but generally prefers to sit behind a desk getting the corporals to do the hard work and bring him tea and biscuits at regular intervals. He blames that on his damaged left leg.
Colour Sergeant ‘Sandy’ Burra was recruited into the team in September 2008 and is a ‘Burra Bear’ from the Shetland Islands. He is handmade using recycled material from Fair Isle sweaters. Wendy Inkster from ‘Burra Bears’ was keen to help out with the appeal, and offered to donate a bear … and Burra was created using colours that would best give the appearance of desert camouflage. He wears an Explosive Ordnance Disposal [EOD] badge at the request of one of our colleagues who lost a leg during mine-clearance operations, and owns assorted McUniforms including a very smart Black Watch outfit with kilt and sporran and a perfectly detailed Mess Dress. Burra is a tough bear and fit to deploy to any location no matter how hostile the environment. He has a liking for malt whiskies and shortbread.
Sgt Hotspur originates from Build-a-Bear in Chester, and was originally badged as an Army Air Corps aircrewman. Following a week-long “Parachuting Course” in The Netherlands, he now wears the maroon beret of The Parachute Regiment and the blue “DZ patch” of the 2nd Batallion. He has over a dozen parachute descents in his Log-Book, and is now dressed in the latest “Multi-Terrain Pattern” (MTP) uniform. When he was a young Cpl, Hotspur had an uncanny knack of attracting problems for his Bearer on every mission.These have included lost and broken cameras, and finally being declared “Missing In Action” in the USA. The current Hotspur is thus an identical twin, and has been promoted to Sgt in the hope of improving his luck.
Sgt Helier Braille
Sgt Helier Braille was a surprise addition to the Team in Jan 09, and was donated by “Mr Pin”, who produced the Sgt Slingsby pins. Sgt Braille is a member of The Jersey Field Squadron (M) Royal Engineers (The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey) (Formed in 1337, and thus the oldest Unit in the British Army). As a Sapper, Sgt Braille has large paws and is accustomed to lifting heavy things, building bridges and digging holes – or at least getting his subordinates to do those things. He is yet another Afghanistan veteran. He was made by Postal Bears, and owns several different uniforms.
MCpl Amy Soldier
MCpl Amy Soldier is an overseas recruit from Canada, where she was created by Mr Fred Herman, a 33-year veteran of the Canadian Forces. We decided she should commemorate the inspirational MCpl Paul Franklin, CF, whose story can be linked from our News Area. She is thus badged as a Medic, and wears the distinctive Canadian Cadpat camouflage uniform. In 2012 she will undertake her 2nd tour in Afghanistan, Due to her small size, Amy usually gets sent on long-range missions, as she’s easy to post back home.
Cpl Horsa originates from Build-a-Bear in Chester, and is badged as an Army Air Corps aircrewman [door gunner]. He also wears parachute wings (he’s done a few jumps already!) and now owns the latest “Multi-Terrain Pattern” (MTP) clothing. Cpl Horsa was our first Bear to deploy on operations. He “served” in Afghanistan from Oct – Dec 08, and thus also wears the Operational Service Medal. Whilst in ‘Stan he was injured in an “incident”, but was later brought back to full health by Build-a-Bear.
Following an outbreak of Parachuting and mingling with members of the Parachute Regiment, it was felt appropriate to include a Para-Bear in the Team’s line-up. Corporal Arnhem was generously provided by the donor of Sgt Braille, and is also from Postal Bears. He proudly wears his Para wings on his right arm, and on the left wears the maroon “DZ Patch” of the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. He drinks beer.