The 'James' Teddy Bear on sale in support of SSAFA

15 June 2020

Britain’s oldest remaining teddy bear manufacturer, Merrythought, has collaborated with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, to create a teddy bear which will raise vital funds for members of the armed forces and their families.

The beautifully British-made collectable teddy bear, named James after SSAFA founder, Major James Gildea, has been specifically created during Merrythought’s 90th anniversary year to support the great work done by the charity.

Fourth-generation managing director Sarah Holmes has said the partnership is close to everyone’s hearts at Merrythought.

My grandfather, Trayton Holmes, proudly served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and Merrythought helped with the war effort,  making various textile items such as gas mask covers, kit bags, and clothing

After returning home to Shropshire after the war, Trayton went on to become managing director of Merrythought.

Being able to support such a remarkable charity in the year we mark the 75 anniversary of the end of the war, and remember those who fought for our freedom, is a true honour for Merrythought, especially as we celebrate our own milestone 90th anniversary this year, too.

- Sarah Holmes, Managing Director, Merrythought

James Bear has been crafted from soft sandy-gold mohair plush and features pure wool felt paws.

His nose and smile have been carefully hand-embroidered to give him a truly unique, friendly character. The special finishing touch is his pure wool tweed scarf, which has been exclusively woven in England to subtly incorporate SSAFA’s red and blue brand colours.


We are delighted to be working with Merrythought on this special edition bear. This is a significant year for SSAFA as we celebrate our 135th year of supporting the military community in need – and also commemorate 75 years since the end of the war.

It is fitting for both of these special occasions that Merrythought has created a bespoke bear, named after our founder, that can be treasured for years to come. We hope that these bears will be passed down through generations ahead, along with the knowledge that the purchase of each one has made a difference to our Nation’s Armed Forces family.

- Rebecca Keaveney, Head of Commercial Operations, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity

Merrythought teddy bears are world-renowned, each one handmade in a delicate, 15-stage process which uses the finest skills and natural materials

James Bear is a limited edition of only 1885 bears, reflecting the year SSAFA was founded, and is presented in a special edition premium cotton drawstring bag.

The teddy bear is priced at £125 and will be available from the Merrythought website and other stockists from 15 June 2020. Up to £12.50 for every James Bear sold will be paid in support of the charity.

Please feel free to call our Forcesline if you need any support.

0800 731 4880

We are open 09:00 - 17:30,
Monday to Friday.