I was born with a rare and complicated heart and lung condition and was never able to run around and play as other children did. Children can be cruel, and I was often bullied and made fun of.
My teddy bear, (Teddy Hornby, who after my marriage became Teddy Hornby-Roberts), a gift from my grandparents following my birth, was my constant companion, often spending time with me in hospital, or sitting on the front door step, where I would whisper my worries and fears into his ear.
Over the years I've made many good friends but I've never forgotten the important part that Teddy Hornby-Roberts has played in my life.
Dorothy & Teddy c1951
In 2008 Teddy and I celebrated our 60th birthdays. Four years previously, I had moved from Lancashire to Mid Wales but have kept in close contact with my many friends, so I was determined to invite as many as possible to celebrate with us.
Out went the invitations - from Teddy Hornby-Roberts - inviting everyone to a Teddy Bears' Picnic "to celebrate his 60th birthday, and that of his lifelong companion, Dorothy". The invitations stated that well behaved teddies were also invited.
It was a bit of a gamble as to what people would make of such an invitation, but the replies, mainly from Teddy Bears, stating that they, and their owners, would be happy to accept, soon came flooding in.
As several of our Lancashire friends decided to find accommodation and spend the whole weekend in the area, we decided to take them for a train ride on the Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway here in Tywyn. This was the first preserved railway of its kind in the world.
After weeks of heavy rain and gale force winds, we were blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny afternoon. Friends and teddies were soon aboard the train for the hour and a half return trip, which included a couple of stops for sightseeing and photographs.
The day was to be rounded off with a buffet tea in what was then the Porter's Platter Restaurant (now known as The King's Restaurant) on the Station Platform. Once back at the Wharf more guests, in the form of both humans and teddies, began to arrive. A separate table had been set up for our birthday cake - which was in the form of a Teddy Bears' Picnic - and the teddies settled themselves round this whilst the buffet was served.
I'd also put together a teddy bear quiz, which I called "The Bear Facts". This proved to be a great icebreaker with our long standing and new friends, and was much enjoyed, although there was some light hearted rivalry from time to time.
Despite Teddy Hornby - Roberts being 60 years old, he was far from the oldest bear at the party. One bear was over a hundred years old, and another over 70. Many were worn and thread bare, and were of various colours, shapes and sizes, but all had one thing in common - they have been and still are, much loved and treasured friends.
Fast forward by five years, to September 2013, when it was time for us to celebrate our 65th birthdays. This was on a much smaller scale, as my husband, Ken and I had, just ten weeks earlier, celebrated our Ruby Wedding Anniversary, so we could hardly expect our friends to travel to Wales and pay for accommodation yet again.
The day, although dry, was cool and windy, so, after a very short photo session we went for lunch in our favourite Fish and Chip restaurant, here in Tywyn.
However, several of our friends were determined to help us celebrate by coming down to Wales the following weekend. Saturday evening saw us hosting a small party and buffet in our home, and the following lunchtime, about ten of us went out for Sunday lunch – and, yes, Teddy Hornby-Roberts went along too, to join in the fun.
Not bad for a 65 year old teddy bear and a little girl who wasn't expected to live long enough to see her eighteenth birthday.