Published Thursday 27th July 2023

A holidaymaker from Hereford left distraught after losing a teddy bear given to her by the charity which cared for her grandad 13 years ago has booked a return trip to Turkey to look for the treasured item.

Lauren Hartless thinks she left the bear in a hotel bed after visiting the popular Mediterranean country, but despite calling the resort she has been unable to locate it.

Granuts Bear has been a hugely important figure in 19-year-old Lauren’s life having been given to her by St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford when she was just five.

At the time, the Hospice was caring for Lauren’s grandad, Brian. St Michael’s has a tradition, which is still honoured today, of handing teddy bears to patients to distribute to younger loved ones to provide comfort and a tangible memory which often lasts years.

“The loss of the Bear has impacted us greatly because he meant so much,” said Lauren’s mum, Ali Hartless, who is pictured at St Michael’s (main photo above) with Lauren.

“The bear had never left her side since the day it was given her. My dad was Lauren’s world, and where my dad would have been present, Granuts Bear filled his place; Lauren’s first nativity, her first sports day, and so on. It has helped mend all our hearts in one way or another.”

The Bear had travelled everywhere with Lauren, most recently residing at Birmingham University.

“It’s funny how such a small thing has had such a profound impact, bringing endless love and comfort to us all, but particularly Lauren,” Ali added.

After realising ‘Granuts Bear’ – derived from the name Lauren lovingly called her relative – had been left on holiday, the family made a desperate effort to get him back.

“We’ve embarked on extensive investigation including phone calls and contact with anyone visiting the same hotel, as well as asking tour operators and local taxi services which visit the hotel,” said Ali.

“It’s a long shot but we have booked a return holiday to try and find Granuts. We will never give up.”

Ali Hartless teddy bear low res

The bear had never left Lauren’s side since the day it was given her. It has helped mend all our hearts in one way or another.

Lauren’s mum, Ali Hartless

There has been some good news for Lauren since Granuts’ disappearance, though.

The Hospice relies on a number of volunteers to knit jumpers for the teddies. After hearing of Lauren’s distress, one of those volunteers, Jenny Macklin, and her niece, Yvette, helped create a replica jumper which was donated to Lauren and her mum during a visit to the Bartestree-based Hospice.  

“I can’t thank St Michael’s enough,” said Lauren.

“It felt like I lost a part of me when I left the original bear in Turkey. He’d been with me nearly all my life and meant so much. It’s just so heart-warming to know that even though it’s been years since my grandad was at St Michael’s, that love and care for us as a family is still there.”

One of the St Michael’s Hospice Memory Bears, Benny, is currently part of a summer adventure supporting St Michael’s.
Benny Bear’s Teddy Trail is a fun trail for all the family, as you search Hereford city centre looking for Benny’s lost teddy bear friends.
Once finished, you can enjoy an ice cream from the Coffee Cart Company.

It ends on Sunday, 30th July. Sign up here