Paddington Bear, Major Movie Star and Celebrity Bear Icon, Helps Children’s Health With Free Hugs

Careful, Brad Pitt. There’s a new big name actor this December: Paddington Bear, voiced on screen by Colin Firth! Paddington is a humble bear, of course, and his charitable philosophy is never far behind his star quality. Last month, he appeared at the very station where he was discovered, Paddington Station in London, giving out free hugs to each and every commuter. It was all for a good cause, raising awareness of Action Medical Research, a great charity responsible for the UK’s first polio vaccines, among other things.

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Is there a science to a hug making someone’s day better?
According to research, not related to our charity, a hug results in the hormone oxytocin being released in the body. Oxytocin calms the nervous system and boosts positive emotions.
This means that a hug can make someone’s day better because:
• It lowers blood pressure, especially helpful if feeling anxious.
• It lowers cortisol (the stress hormone), which can mean a better night’s sleep.
• It can increase social connections and a sense of belonging.
How did you land such a big celebrity for your cause?
Paddington Bear has been at the heart of fundraising for Action Medical Research ever since his creator, Michael Bond, met the charity’s founder, Duncan Guthrie, in 1976. Paddington Bear always likes to help wherever he can and so, after chewing over the matter with Mr Bond, he agreed to support Action Medical Research as the charity’s official mascot.
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Your charity does a lot! Can you share how Action Medical Research helps disabled and diseased children?
Despite enormous progress in medicine, there is still an urgent need for research to help sick and disabled children.We fund the very best medical research to help save and change children’s lives. We are currently funding over 75 projects across the UK.
For over 60 years we’ve been saving and changing lives through medical research and have spent over £100m, funding some amazing breakthroughs:
• Introducing the first polio vaccines in the UK.
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• Discovering the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent spina bifida.
• Developing the use of ultrasound technology in pregnancy.
• Creating the Matrix Seating System to help support physically disabled children as they grow.
• Testing the rubella vaccine.
Can you also tell us how you help premature babies?
We want to make a difference in:
• Tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies.
• Helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections.
• Targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children.
We do this by:
• Finding and funding cutting-edge medical research across the UK most likely to deliver real benefit to babies, children and young people.
• Assessing the impact of the research we fund and sharing the results.
• Raising funds to make this vital research possible.

Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond’s daughter attended your Christmas tree event. And a world record attempt was involved! What has the reaction been to the event? Have you had more strangers interested in the charity?

Paddington Bear’s friendly face has helped us attract thousands of new supporters who together have raised millions of pounds to help babies and children.

How can people donate to Action Medical Research from anywhere in the world?

Please donate today online by giving what you can to help save and change the lives of thousands of babies and children. There is an option for non-UK addresses: http://www.action.org.uk/support_us/donate_online

Are you going to hold another Paddington Bear event in 2014 when he becomes a big movie star?

2014 is due to be a very special year for our furry mascot with the release of a new Paddington feature movie in December 2014, boasting a star-studded cast including Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville and Julie Waters. We will be celebrating his special year and his two birthdays (25 June and 25 December) with some events and social media activities. Keep up to date with what is planned by following us on Twitter at @actionmedres.
See the adorable video below!
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