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Teddy bears travelling the world to raise money for RAF charity

Posted onPosted on 13th Feb

A local man has come up with a unique idea to help raise money for the Royal Air Force Association — a charity that provides welfare support to current and former RAF members.

Paul Watson, a medical support technician, has created a group of RAF-themed teddy bears that are travelling the world to raise money and awareness for the charity.

Regi and friends round the world adventures (RAFA Bears) are already a hit on social media.

Paul came up with the idea after seeing the bears at a committee meeting at the RAFA branch in Newark.

The idea reminded him of his time as an apprentice at Travel Wright coaches, where a driver used to carry a toy rabbit, named Kev, on the dashboard of his bus that travelled between Ollerton and Newark.

Paul recalled that people used to kidnap the rabbit and send the driver notes of the toy’s travels from around the world.

Currently Paul has seven bears, one named in memory of the late Jim Auton, a second world war veteran whose funeral in Newark made national headlines in February when hundreds of mourners attended following an appeal.

The RAFA bears are travelling the world with people and their travels are being documented in a diary. Photos of the bears are being posted on special Facebook and Instagram pages.

Currently, the bears have journeys planned to visit the Falklands and The Great War Battlefields. They also recently joined the Red Arrows team.

Paul, of Newark, said: “The aim is to raise money for the RAF Association and also to bring people together.”

A Facebook group he created gained 100 members in just 24 hours. The group, named Regi and friends round the world adventures (RAFA Bears), has 425 members (at the time of writing) and the number is rising.

Paul added: “The aim is to auction off the bears next February with the diaries and any other memorabilia the bears may get along the way.”

He raised £100 in the first three weeks and has no specific target for the fundraiser, saying: “I am not looking to reach a certain amount of money, I just want the bears to have good memories to share with their new owners.”

Some people have also bought their own bears that they will take on their travels to later give to Paul to also auction off.

The bears have currently travelled within the local area and also as far as Spain.

Regi, one of the bears, went on a first aid course and is due to receive his badge at the 1260 Squadron Newark Air Cadets presentation evening in March.

The bears have also visited Newark businesses, including Divine Hair and The Cake Fairy; Lincoln County Hospital; and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Paul said: “This project has been the gift that keeps on giving.”

To raise further money the bears are carrying pins for sale and donation tins on their journeys. Paul also has some mini teddies for sale.

If you would like to follow or support the journey of Regi and his friends, you can join them on Facebook: Regi and friends round the world adventures (RAFA Bears) or follow them on Instagram @rafa_bears_newark or Twitter — @RegiBadger.

For more information go to where you can purchase your own bear.