Shoreham mother leads teddy bear appeal for sick child refugees

The camp near Filippiada in Greece
The camp near Filippiada in Greece

A mother of two from Shoreham is collecting vital items for refugees in a camp in Greece, including teddy bears for sick children being treated in the medical tents.

Fiona Murdoch, 43, is coordinating drop off points in the community to get a collection ready for delivery by mid October or November.

A sunset football match at the camp

A sunset football match at the camp

She hopes to send teddy bears to the medical team at the camp, near Filippiada, which houses 500 people, more than half of whom are children from Syria, Iraq and other places.

“They give the teddy bears to the children after unpleasant procedures but they have none left,” she said. “The kids are often very ill and malnourished so they are requesting brand new ones, as they really want to avoid any bacteria.”

As well as new, small teddy bears, refugees at the camp need winter shoes and socks, blankets, winter coats and snow suits, waterproof clothing, pushchairs and canned food.

Boredom in the camp is a big problem, Fiona said, so she is also collecting toys such as lego and jigsaws, footballs and football boots, pens, colouring books and art materials.

I’ve got kids and I wouldn’t want them to be in that situation.

Fiona Murdoch

Fiona said: “We’re really careful to only send what they need.

“Its something. Everything helps. I’ve got kids and I wouldn’t want them to be in that situation.”

The delivery this autumn will be the sixth that Fiona, whose children are five and seven, has organised since she was inspired to act a year ago after seeing the shocking photo, which made international headlines, of three-year-old Alan Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean.

After mothers at her children’s school were keen to get involved, she set up the group ‘From Shoreham to Greece’, which almost 200 people have joined on Facebook.

She said that the people of Shoreham have responded ‘really well.’

“People have been really kind,” she said. “It’s happening so close to here. Everyone knows it could be us.”

Local businesses and organisations have also contributed, with West Street Loft collecting through their tip jar to pay for the pallets to be delivered to Greece and St Nicolas and St Mary’s primary school also organising collections.

One of the nurses treating children at camps in Greece, including Filippiada, said the teddy bears would be hugely appreciated.

Deborah Rays has welcomed 12 refugees into her own home in Australia over the past few years and is now volunteering in Greece for the second time.

“These refugee children need special comfort,” she said. “They have been through such fear and trauma.”

Anyone who would like to donate items for the delivery this autumn can buy items through the Amazon wish list set up by Fiona.

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