"Megan and Annie were heartbroken as dad (Ray) only lived five minutes away from us in Navan so used to call to the house every day."

Heartbroken kids return to school with precious keepsakes of beloved grandfather who died from Covid-19

Louise Walsh

Two young children who were devastated by the death of their grandfather to Covid-19 will now bring a little bit of him to school with them each day through memory bear keyrings.

Mum Sarah Kelly has described the White Robins memory bears as being a 'tremendous help' to her two girls Megan (10) and Annie (5) who are grieving after the death of their beloved grandfather Ray Kelly (70) in April.

Tragically White Robins was started in recent months by Kells resident Wendy Coyle after she made memory bears from the clothes of her mum and young sister who both passed away within three weeks of each other after battles with cancer at the end of 2018.

Wendy also made a 'worry backpack' for one of the bears so ten year old Megan could write down her anxieties and ask her granddad to take them away.

"My dad Ray was just finishing treatment for stage two throat cancer and we thought he had beaten it when sadly, he contracted Covid-19 while in hospital," said Sarah.

Annie (5) and Megan (11) Kelly with teddies in memory of grandad Ray (70) PHOTO: SEAMUS FARRELLY

"He was in hospital and no-one could visit because of the restrictions. When he got Covid-19, he was transferred to the Mater Hospital where the staff were amazing.

"After he took a stroke, they allowed me in to see him. To lose your dad at any time is shattering but to lose him to Covid-19 when his body had to be double-bagged and placed in a closed casket was surreal.

"None of his friends could attend the funeral because there were only ten allowed in the crematorium. He had a load of friends but none of them got to say goodbye.

"Megan and Annie were heartbroken as dad only lived five minutes away from us in Navan so used to call to the house every day.

Annie (5) and Megan (11) Kelly with mum Sarah

"When I saw the memory bears through a friend, I knew I had to get them from White Robins for the girls.

"They have been a tremendous help. You have no idea the comfort that it gives them. Megan was really struggling with my dad's death and I told Wendy about it.

"So she made a little backpack with pen and notebook for her bear so when she feels sad, she can write it all down in the notebook and her granddad's memory bear will take the burden away. We were all bawling in Wendy's sitting room when we got them.

"I also asked Wendy to make two keyrings bears which I've attached to the girls' schoolbags so that they can bring a bit of their granddad to school with them when they return on Friday."

Wendy, from Kells, decided to try and help others after she discovered the comfort she received from making the bears initially from her mum's clothes

It's only in recent weeks that she made a memory bear from the clothes of her sister Kim Allen who died after a five month battle with cancer at the age of 34.

Wendy had started White Robins with Kim before she got ill and decided to carry on the business name with the memory bears.

"I couldn't bring myself to throw their clothes out and wondered what I'd do with them. I have been sewing since I was 17 years old so I decided to make memory bears - the first was with my mum's old nightdress.

Wendy Coyle with sister Kim who passed away in 2018 from cancer.

"A friend of mine saw them and asked me to make a few bears for her - from clothes of a loved one who died from suicide. She shared the pics on Facebook and before I knew it, I was inundated with requests.

"My memory bears come with the message: "This is the clothes I used to wear: Whenever you hold me, know I'm there'

"I also find out about the person who passed and for example, if they loved flowers, I'll do a photoshoot of the bear with flowers.

""People and children of all ages are getting such great comfort from the bears and that just gives my heart a lift, knowing that I can provide a bit of happiness in their grief.

"My sister Kim ensured she made happy memories with her children and husband before she died and I hope I can carry on her legacy and make some happy memories for other people who have lost their loved ones through these bears.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the bears can contact Wendy through her WhiteRobins Facebook page.

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