Published: 26/10/2012 09:44 - Updated: 26/10/2012 10:26

Royal Bear Force to rescue

THERE is no need for young children to just grin and bear it alone while their daddy or mummy is overseas on deployment.

In fact, RAF Lossiemouth has its own frontline squadron of teddy bears who play a vital role in ensuring youngsters do not feel left out or isolated.

The innovative move by the Community Support Team (CST) uses five cuddly teds to explain to younger members of the family left at home why their parent is away.

Flight Sergeant Dexter is in charge of the less than conventional squadron which has become a vital tool in supporting personnel on deployment.

Also standing to attention is Rocky, who is currently in Afghanistan with 51 Sqn RAF Regiment from RAF Lossiemouth. He takes his name from the squadron’s nickname of the ‘Rock Apes’.

Then there is Guy, named after the famous leader of 617 Dambusters Squadron Guy Gibson. Guy was the pioneer for the squadron, becoming the first bear to deploy overseas with the squadron earlier this year.

Stanley is a regular visitor to the far-flung Falkland Islands and Malcolm operates extensively in the Middle East.

Another bear is set to be added to the team next year when 12 Squadron deploys its Tornado force to Afghanistan.

The bears all feature heavily in a children’s newsletter called "Pawprint" which explains, in simple terms, what life is like in Afghanistan or any other theatre.

A series of pictures of the bears in action show what the squadron is doing while it is away. The pictures are taken by personnel themselves and e-mailed back to the community support team, who then put together the newsletters.

The newsletter also contains fun puzzles, colouring-in and other activities for the children.

The bears have become something of celebrities and also have blogs running on "Airspace", the RAF community support website.

Pam Brain, one of the HIVE information officers who came up with idea to use the bears, said: "This allows the young people to feel involved. Pawprint shows that we are one big RAF family.

"Rocky is out there just now with 51 Squadron. We started it at Easter this year with 617 Squadron and carried it on with 51 Sqn.

"The feedback we have had from kids is that it is fantastic and they love the bears," she added.

There was even a teddy bears’ picnic over the summer when the Bear Squadron got a little R&R (rest and recuperation) of their own.

The bears are set to become a permanent fixture at RAF Lossiemouth, and while they have a serious role to play in the RAF, they are also on hand for a cuddle any time one is required.

Read more about the support network for RAF Lossiemouth families in 'The Northern Scot'.

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