Looking Back at 25: CRY’s first Ambassadors… meet CRY Teddy

Have you ever wondered why a teddy in a t-shirt sometimes pops up on CRY’s posters or turns up at events? Why would one of CRY’s furry friends be pictured on a flyer, helping to promote CRY’s 2020 Heart of London Bridges Walk… and why might we be seeing more of our so-called ‘CRY Teddy’ during the 25th anniversary year?

In early 2003, as CRY was really beginning to gather momentum and starting to gain a solid reputation in the UK’s charity sector, Alison Cox received an interesting invite from her counterparts on the other side of the world.

“QT (or cutie!) Kanga” – the official mascot of the Australian Sudden Arrythmia Death Foundation – was to be coming over to the UK (transported by the Scottish MEP Catherine Stiler, who would first be taking Kanga to a press conference in Brussels!) and how would Alison feel about taking over the itinerary for a few months?

Naturally, Alison jumped at the opportunity!

Alison was told that Kanga’s tour could be a mix of ‘business and pleasure’ (with CRY families taking him – or her? – away with them on family holidays or outings, as long as it helped to raise awareness for CRY by taking photos of their adventures, which might even lead to a write-up in the local newspaper!) Alison also promised to make Kanga centre stage at official events such as CRY’s Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons.

But Alison quickly realised something was missing… Kanga needed a UK friend. So, along came “CRY Teddy”, complete with his specially designed backpack, passport and teddy-branded badges, keyrings and even Christmas cards.

The fledging charity and its growing band of supporters really embraced Kanga and CRY Teddy and before long, an impressive itinerary for their awareness raising tour had been planned. Across 2003 and 2004, the dynamic duo travelled to schools, CRY screenings, rugby matches, a two-week walk from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, and the London Marathon. They were even taken to a recording of the biggest TV show of the decade, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

Families also started to put in bids to take CRY Teddy and Kanga on holiday with them. One such couple was Celia Byford Fox and her partner Chris from Hilton, Cambridgeshire, who took the charity mascots with them on a stunning Mediterranean cruise, including dinner at the Captain’s Cocktail Party on the Cunard Caronia. The story made their local press on their return!

Tragically, Celia’s 21-year-old son, David, died suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition in 2002. A year later, Celia said; “It means so much to us to have Kanga and Teddy spend some time with our family. It’s a positive and fun way for us to help the charities and organisations – on both sides of the world – who are working hard to help prevent more cases of sudden death by alerting ‘at risk’ families to the benefits of screening and early detection.”

25 years on CRY’s message and mission remains the same!

Encouraging other families to become involved, Alison Cox, said; “We have been inundated with requests from families across the UK who want to ‘meet’ them and we’re thrilled that the European Tour will now be ‘taking in’ your town too! Kanga and Teddy come with their own, well-travelled backpacks travel-pouch and they have already been creating quite a stir – so keep a look out for our favourite furry friends, with their very important message.”

Eventually, CRY Teddy and Kanga’s tour came to an end and QT Kanga – the so-called marsupial with a message – was returned home in Australia.

But the legacy of CRY Teddy lived on for many years, popping up at various events, with the teddy ‘logo’ and memorabilia continuing to feature… but even once he’d retired from the limelight, he remained a big part of CRY’s history.

So, keep an eye out for him during our 25th anniversary year – you never know where CRY Teddy might appear!!

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