By Helen Le Caplain
This is the emotional moment a grieving healthcare assistant broke down in tears when she heard her nana’s voice coming from a teddy bear – just days after she died.
Lauren Doyle who is recovering from battling sepsis was stunned when she heard the heartfelt message from beyond the grave telling her ‘love you, bye’.
Best friend Carlita Pounder arranged the heart-warming surprise to cheer Lauren up after she was hospitalised following operation complications and the sudden death of her beloved 73-year-old nana Barbara Kinnell just two days after Christmas.
Lauren was sitting at her home in Hartlepool, County Durham, last Wednesday night when Carlita, who she calls Carly, popped in and filmed the furry surprise – catching her heart-warming reaction on camera.
Lauren, 22, said: “I had no idea what was going on. Once I saw the box I knew it was from Build-A-Bear as it’s so distinctive but other than that I had no idea.
“She told me to look at the certificate which said the bear had been called Babbylicious – the nickname I gave my nana.
“I knew it wound her up and I told all her friends about it and they started calling her it too.
“Then I saw the bear was dressed all in red – a red dress, red shoes and even red knickers – my nana’s favourite colour.
“It was overwhelming to know someone had done that for me and named a bear after her.
“When she said to press its hand I wondered what the hell she was on about, but as soon as I did I knew straight away it was my nana’s voice.
“I was really emotional, I didn’t know what to do or say.”
The voice message Carlita placed inside the bear was left by Barbara on December 5, three weeks before she passed away from cardiac arrest brought on my bronchitis and pneumonia.
Lauren had sent her the recording over text after discovering it on her iPhone one afternoon as she recovered at home.
Barbara’s voicemail said: “Hiya Lauren it’s only Nana.
“Just calling to see if you’re ok pet. I’ll give you a ring later on. Ta-ra love. Love you, bye.”
The footage captures Lauren’s confusion turn to shock as she realises whose voice is coming from the bear, before hiding her face in her hands and bursting into tears.
Lauren said: “Hearing her say ‘love you’ was totally mad. It’s like that voicemail was made to go somewhere.
“My whole family said that everything I would want to hear she says in that little recording, it’s just crazy.
“It was emotional hearing it on my phone after she passed away – it was better hearing her voice coming from the bear rather than the phone.
“It felt more comforting, I was happy crying listening to it. I hadn’t had time to acknowledge my nana dying, I hadn’t started to grieve, and that just pushed me over the edge.
“The rest of the night, every time we watched it I started crying. My mam had to stop watching it – it had us all in tears.”
Lauren’s friend of 19 years student nurse Carlita from Hartlepool said she designed the bear to cheer Lauren up.
Carlita, 23, said: “Her nana was a very young 73 – it was really, really unexpected. The day she passed Lauren rang me straight away, it was such a shock to everyone.
“I got a text from Lauren with the voice recording saying ‘look what I’ve just found’ just a few days after she passed, I couldn’t believe it.
“I was going to Build-A-Bear the following day and had planned to dress it in red and give her her nana’s nickname.
“When I listened to the voicemail it was just plain and simple – such a beautiful message – it was meant to be.
“It’s heart-breaking but I knew she could keep it forever. Straight away I decided to put the recording in the bear.”
Carlita visited the Gateshead branch of the store in Metro Centre and revealed her plan to a member of staff who helped put the bear together.
Carlita said: “I explained everything to her, she was so lovely and helpful.
“She turned the store music down and even asked the children in the shop to be quiet while she recorded it.
“The space on the bear’s recording was the exact number of seconds the voicemail was. I was crying in the shop while getting it made.
“When I went to hand it over to her I knew I would have to explain each step to her as I think she thought it was chocolate at first. It was really emotional.”
It was all the more heart-wrenching for Carlita as it reminded her of her close relationship with her grandad who passed away a few years ago.
Carlita said: “I was thinking how close I was to my granda.
“His nickname was ‘chick’ and after he died four years ago Lauren bought me a little Pandora charm of a chicken.
“I’ve got that on my bracelet and it reminds me of him, so doing this brought so many emotions back.
“Lauren’s not usually an emotional person but she didn’t get time to grieve properly.
“I stopped filming the video where I did because I thought if I’m going to show people this video she’ll probably kill me if they see her ugly crying face.
“I then went over and cuddled her.”
Carlita shared the footage on Facebook so that friends and family could see it but it’s since gone viral and says the response has been phenomenal.
Carlita said: “People’s comments have been amazing. I’ve had people coming up to me in the street saying how beautiful the video is and how it made them cry watching it.”
Lauren said Carlita’s idea to have the bear made was incredibly special and it’s something she will treasure for life.
Lauren said: “We’ve been friends since we were three years old, she’s like part of my family. I just think she’s a one-in-a-million person.
“It’s really creative. As soon as I saw it I couldn’t believe it, I’ve never known someone do something so thoughtful and put so much effort into it.
“Watching the video back I still get butterflies – it makes me feel like my nana’s close to me.”
“The bear lives on my bed and is something I will treasure forever.
“I always tell my friends I love them. Now I leave voicemails if they don’t pick up – it’s so important as you don’t know when you will hear from them again.”
Associate Manager at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Metro Centre, Chelsie-Leigh Baldwin, helped Carlita make the special bear.
Chelsie-Leigh said: “It was an honor to help Carlita make a special bear for her friend in memory of her gran.
“I came across the video on social media and loved seeing Lauren’s reaction when she received her gift. Being a part of a guest’s special moment like this is one of the best parts of my job.”