Writer pens tale of teddy’s trav­els

Marlborough Midweek - - BIG READ - PAULA HULBURT

A Marl­bor­ough teddy’s big ad­ven­ture is giv­ing Padding­ton Bear a run for his money when it comes to trav­el­ling the globe.

The tale of a teddy bear called Wil­liam has cap­tured hearts here and abroad.

Un­like his per­pet­u­ally hun­gry coun­ter­part who is fa­mous for vis­it­ing Peru, Wil­liam has more than mar­malade sand­wiches on his mind and is help­ing raise aware­ness about a se­ri­ous dis­ease.

Blenheim au­thor Bev­er­ley Cross and her bear trav­elled to northern In­dia with Chris­tian char­ity, Lep­rosy Mis­sion.

Their epic jour­ney graces the pages of Bev­er­ley’s first book; a chil­dren’s tale called Wil­liam’s Story.

The small, hairy bear, from Bal­lan­tynes depart­ment store in Christchurch, be­came some­thing of a star dur­ing his time in In­dia, Bev­er­ley says.

‘‘Ev­ery­body wanted to hold him and have their photo taken with him.

‘‘It was a last-minute de­ci­sion to take Wil­liam along but I thought he’d help break down bar­ri­ers and he did.

‘‘He was a re­ally pop­u­lar vis­i­tor, peo­ple loved him,’’ she says.

Wil­liam, a 2011 spe­cial edi­tion earth­quake bear, trav­elled in style in Cross’s hand lug­gage. She made him a tiny pass­port to hang around his neck.

The jour­ney was the sec­ond time Bev­er­ley had vis­ited the lep­rosy hospi­tal in Faiz­abad. She first went in 2005 to ful­fil a dream she had as a 5-year old.

‘‘I met a cou­ple of el­derly mis­sion­ary ladies who had re­turned from the Mis­sion fields of In­dia and China and their sto­ries stayed with me. I knew I wanted to go there too,’’ she says.

Bev­er­ley went on to train as a nurse at Christchurch Pub­lic Hospi­tal. Through­out a long and var­ied ca­reer, which also saw her work as a po­lice­woman and as a phar­macy tech­ni­cian, she never lost sight of her dream.

In 2000 she made her first visit to northern In­dia where she helped in the op­er­at­ing the­atre of the lep­rosy hospi­tal.

She cred­its her deep faith with help­ing her re­turn to the area and feels she is meant to re­turn for a third and fi­nal time.

‘‘I wanted to help get word out about the im­por­tant work the Lep­rosy Mis­sion are do­ing.

‘‘Most peo­ple have a vi­sion that some­one with lep­rosy will be quite dis­abled, with miss­ing fin­gers and toes. The re­al­ity is that it can be treated if peo­ple know what to look for and early signs are spot­ted.

‘‘Wil­liam gave chil­dren bear hugs and was there to make chil­dren feel a bit bet­ter. ‘‘He was a star,’’ Bev­er­ley says. Wil­liam’s Story is avail­able through pub­lish­ers Prisma Print for $15. Visit prismaprint.co.nz for more in­for­ma­tion.

PHOTO: PAULA HULBURT/STUFF

Writer Bev­er­ley Cross has penned her first chil­dren’s book about the ad­ven­tures of a bear named Wil­liam.

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