Dundee tenants bear all with film of childhood memories

Tenants and staff from a Bield retirement housing development in Dundee have taken a trip down memory lane thanks to a local film about childhood teddies.

Five tenants and two members of staff from Strathmartine Court have shared treasured memories about their favourite cuddly toys as part of a series of movies.

‘Talking ‘Bout Teddies’, which will be shown in libraries around Dundee until mid-October, features locals aged between two and 92 discussing what their childhood teddies meant to them growing up and the memories associated with them.

Tenants remembered their bears being by their side during scary times, such as keeping them safe during the war when there was a threat of incoming bombers, while one tenant even crafted a pillow from their mother’s dressing gown to help them cope with her tragic loss.

Since filming the series, all those involved have been able to gather together to view themselves on screen.

Colin Milne, retirement housing manager at Strathmartine Court, said: “As our tenants represent some of Dundee’s more mature population, they all have experienced first-hand the effect of human frailties, fear of change, uncertainty and loss.

“Some of the stories told by our tenants were powerful examples of feeling protected in difficult times.

“When you watch the films you realise how important this comfort can be in tough times.”

The films were created through a collaboration between Dundee Libraries and scientist Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a Dundee-based researcher who specialises in the science of attachment.

The project looks into the innate link individuals have between their childhood experiences and subsequent adult health. Dr Zeedyk uses her expertise on the subject to help explain the connection between a child’s comfort and how adults learn to deal with stress.

Colin added: “Because the tenants had been so significant in the film, Suzanne organised a private showing for us.

“The night was very successful, it was very emotional stuff, and there was a lot of laughter but there was equally a lot of tears as well. It was a great night and it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.”

After the final showing, Dr Suzanne Zeedyk will deliver a public lecture on the science of teddy bears at the Dundee Science Centre.

Elaine Hallyburton, senior library and information officer at Dundee Libraries, said: “This project has been fantastic and an incredible experience.

“Apart from highlighting Teddy Bears’ importance for children’s emotional well-being, and their contribution to children’s resilience, we have also been able to show a different facet of the library service.

“We felt very strongly about providing a creative, visual means of reaching a wide range of people, including parents, children and professionals.

“We wanted children to be empowered to speak about their feelings, and adults to reflect on the unconscious legacies of their childhood, so we were absolutely delighted Carnegie and Wellcome believed in this project enough to give us the money needed to make this happen.

“Throughout the summer months the films have been travelling around Dundee’s local community libraries, bringing voices to buildings often associated with quiet.

“Staff have been very enthusiastic promoting them to families and they have been well received - the buzz has been unbelievable. And hopefully it doesn’t stop here.”

Dundee libraries are running showings of ‘Talking ‘Bout Teddies’ until October 18.

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