Sisters Unite for Africa

PUBLISHED: 10:12 05 August 2010 | UPDATED: 10:12 05 August 2010

Veronica Weatherhead, a nurse who visited Togo on Mercy Ships and her sister Rebecca Bond who has been collecting donated teddy bears for Veronica to take with her.

Veronica Weatherhead, a nurse who visited Togo on Mercy Ships and her sister Rebecca Bond who has been collecting donated teddy bears for Veronica to take with her.

Daniel Wilson

Healthcare and teddies to help sick

Veronica Weatherhead of Royston spent seven weeks on a hospital ship in Togo run by the charity Mercy Ships, helping ill and disabled patients.

Since she returned, her sister Rebecca Bond of Bassingbourn has been collecting knitted teddy bears which will be sent to children in places such as Togo, which has no healthcare system.

Mrs Bond said: “Veronica showed us some photos and told me about her experience. I can’t help on the nursing side of things, so I started asking friends to knit teddies.

“I have had well over 100 sent to me since, and I have 56 knitters.”

The next step for the bears is to take them over to the Mercy Ships headquarters in Stevenage, before they are packaged up and sent to the children.

Mrs Weatherhead, a nurse at Addenbroke’s Hospital in Cambridge, found out about the Mercy Ships through the Royston Rotary Club.

“Every minute was worth it,” she said. “I got more out of it than I could ever possibly give, and made great friends.”

“It was great living there. They are beautiful people, and there was a lovely, atmosphere.

“If I had to write a book about it the title would be ‘It was so nice to be nice.’”

Mrs Weatherhead tended to patients who suffered from cleft pallets, bow-legs, tumours, cataracts and club feet, as well as meeting the country’s president.

She is due to return to Africa next March, when the ship will be docked in Sierra Leone.

“There is no comparison with England,” she said. “The way of life is so different. They are a very Christian society, and there is something that has awakened religion inside me as a result of the trip.”

For more information on Mercy Ships visit www.mercyships.org.uk

To contribute, or for more information on the teddy bear collection, call Rebecca Bond on 01763 246556.

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