Auction of 4,000 teddy bears expected to raise over £40k after woman's dying wish

Susan and Les had shared a 60 year long marriage and together their love for bears blossomed Credit: The Wildlife Trust

By ITV News Central Production Journalist Ellie Rose Griffiths

A woman who collected 4,000 teddy bears throughout her life will have her dying wish granted when the bears are auctioned - and are expected to raise over £40,000.

Susan Collard, from Hereford, collected the teddy bears over 25 years before she died from Covid earlier this year.

Her dying wish was for the bears to be auctioned and the money raised to go to the Hereford Wildlife Trust, which she had been a longstanding member of and had loved for so many years.

Her husband Les, 84, will honour that wish tomorrow (Thursday 8 December).

Speaking to ITV Central, he said that the first auction is expected to raise over £40,000.

Les Collard with his late wife's collection of 4,000 bears Credit: The Wildlife Trust

Susan and Les had shared a 60 year long marriage and together their love for bears blossomed.

Purchasing her first furry toy in 1988, Susan wrapped it up for her husband to open on his 50th birthday.

That's when the 4,000 bear collection began.

Les said: "The bears ranged from 20p to over £1,000, but every bear was equal and loved the same amount."

Each teddy could be seen on display in four rooms of their Hereford home, with all of them having a name imprinted on a wooden heart.

Les says that “every bear was special to Sue and most had their own names” Credit: The Wildlife Trust

Susan was a long-standing member of the Hereford Wildlife Trust. She created her garden in Hereford as a haven for wildlife.

The couple had always agreed on the Hereford Wildlife Trust being the choice of beneficiary.

Les said that he hopes "half of the money raised will go to running the trust and half will go to purchasing land.

"Sue would be so happy.

"I hope that the impact on the trust will last forever."

Susan Collard's dying wish was for the 4,000 bears to be sold and the profits to go to the Wildlife Trust Credit: The Wildlife Trust

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s CEO Jamie Audsley said: "We are incredibly grateful to the Collards for this wonderful gift.

"The funds will contribute to our land purchase fund and to support our work restoring wildlife habitats across the county – a legacy for our landscape, and for future generations to enjoy.

"Gifts such as this are essential to us and allow us to continue our work to protect Herefordshire’s wildlife and wild places."

Between 1,000 and 2,000 of the bears will be auctioned on Thursday 8 December and the remainder will be sold in 2023.