MIDDLESBROUGH and England football legend, Alan Peacock, and former Middlesbrough star, Frank Spraggon, brought smiles to the faces of poorly children, when they made a special guest appearance at the town’s James Cook University Hospital.

Middlesbrough-born Peacock spent the majority of his career at Middlesbrough, also playing for Leeds United and Plymouth Argyle. He joined Middlesbrough in 1954 and became a regular in the side in 1958 alongside Brian Clough.

Spraggon is a former footballer, who played in the Football League for Middlesbrough, making 280 appearances and being in Jack Charlton’s promotion-winning side.

They were guests of honour at James Cook to celebrate the 40,000th Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) bear donated to hospitals in Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Hull and York.

The TLC Appeal has been running nationally for more than 17 years since being set up by Essex Freemason Ian Simpson.

Since 2007 the Freemasons of Yorkshire North and East Ridings have provided teddies to distressed children attending A&E. Teddies for loving Care has seen 40,000 teddies being distributed to Hull Royal Infirmary, Middlesbrough’s James Cook, Scarborough hospital, York Hospital, Northallerton, Redcar and Bridlington Children’s A&E departments, thanks to generous donations from Freemasons in North and East Yorkshire.

Ian Williams, representing TLC North and East Yorkshire, said: “The object of the TLC charity is to relieve the distress and suffering of children admitted to A&E. Children attending a trauma centre are given a TLC teddy to help soothe them, while nurses and doctors carry out their treatment.

“We are proud that football legends Alan Peacock and Frank Spraggon attended James Cook University Hospital to celebrate donating 40,000 TLC bears across North and East Yorkshire.”

The former footballers said: “On hearing about the work done by the TLC appeal in our local hospitals we were delighted to be invited to present the 40,000th bear on behalf of TLC and to meet some of the hard working and dedicated doctors and nurses in the children’s A&E department.”

The 40,000th bear was presented to ten-month-old Nancy Speight. Alan Peacock said: “I think it’s out of this world, a really nice gesture, who would have thought a teddy bear could bring so much joy.”

Andy Hill, TLC coordinator at James Cook, said he was proud that the local Freemasons continue to support the TLC scheme, which is more than 95 per cent funded by Freemasons nationally and has seen more than two million teddies distributed nationally and internationally.

The TLC team thanked Mr Hill “for all his hard work”.