80-year-old knitter helps create new mascot for Dacorum homeless charity - DENNY the Bear

Here's how lockdown created DENNY The Bear

Friday, 26th March 2021, 5:52 am

A homeless charity in Dacorum has unveiled its first mascot, DENNY The Bear, who was created by community volunteers during lockdown.

There is no denying how challenging the pandemic has been for everyone. Whether it’s getting active, relishing the great outdoors or learning a nifty new skill, getting stuck in with hobbies has been great way of banishing lockdown boredom.

Yet, it was one creative endeavour in particular that not only achieved this, but also led to the birth of DENS’ first ever mascot - DENNY The Bear.

Hazel knitting DENNY The Bear

Hazel, 80, from Leverstock Green, was struggling during the first lockdown, unable to have face-to-face contact with her family or social clubs, she was suffering from a real lack of motivation.

She said: “Franky, my granddaughter, started to become concerned that I was getting bored and suggested I took up knitting again.

"I used to knit bears about 18 years ago for ‘Teddies for Tragedy’ and they were sent all over the world, but then I stopped knitting for some reason.

"At first I didn’t think I wanted to do this as I hadn’t knitted for such a long time, however Franky kept encouraging me then provided me with the wool, so I thought I’d better give it a go.”

DENS Young supporter with DENNY

Hazel’s family set her the task of making a special version of the teddy for DENS – complete with a dashing yellow jumper. As soon as the Fundraising team at DENS saw her handiwork, they knew something special was afoot. DENNY The Bear was born!

Since the first lockdown, she has knitted a total of 27 teddies for DENS.

Hazel added: “I’m glad my granddaughter persisted with me dusting off my knitting needles as I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it.

"It’s nice to knit away whilst also being able to watch TV or listen to the radio. I feel a good sense of achievement when I’ve finished each bear and I like the thought that what I’m doing might make a difference to DENS."

DENNY The Bear

Soon, word began to spread about DENNY The Bear. Thanks to the fantastic support from knitters within the local community and beyond, a total of 50 DENNY The Bears have been made so far.

There are now big plans ahead for every DENNY to go on its very own adventure throughout Dacorum.

Nicky Maxwell-Braithwaite, Community and Events Fundraising Manager at DENS, said: “We are so excited to finally reveal our new mascot to the world!

"The creation of DENNY and the reaction that has followed is a perfect example of how our supporters have been able to come together and stay connected with the charity throughout the pandemic.

“There are some exciting plans in the pipeline for getting DENNY out to the people of Dacorum. Get ready to see our cute mascot everywhere – such as at our upcoming events, like Go Yellow Week in June, as well as making their way to top fundraisers, schools and community groups that have supported us.”

The very first recipient of the mascot was Chris. This inspiring man from Hemel Hempstead was the top fundraiser in the charity’s STEPtember campaign.

After completing 10,000 or more steps each day throughout the month of September, he more than doubled his fundraising target to reach £526.

Chris, who has a learning disability and autism, was delighted to receive a congratulatory hamper including his very own DENNY The Bear.

DENS aim is to be the first port of call for people in Dacorum who are facing homelessness, poverty and social exclusion; to support and empower them to take the next positive step in

their lives.