Coleraine designer's bear represents Ireland in Olympics Challenge

A TEDDY bear made in Coleraine is representing Ireland in the Taiwan Teddy Bear Olympic Challenge.

Coleraine woman Carol Conley has been designing and making collector bears since 2003, under the name Emerald Bears.

Carol's 22 inch luxury faux fur bear, named 'Oran', will be hoping to knock the stuffing out of 32 others entries from around the world in the unique competition.

"I made my first bear for my grandmother, she lived on her own and got lonely at times, especially at night, and "the Colonel" as he was known, kept her company in her little home," explains Carol.

"Since then I've sold over 500 bears to people around the world including America, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, across Europe and of course locally in Northern Ireland.

"I have a stall once a month at the Causeway Speciality Market, where my sister Lorna and I meet customers."

Carol had hoped to make a green blazer for her bear, similar to that worn by the Northern Ireland Milk Cup officials as well as the tournament crest. But to her disappointment the judges said that football wasn't strictly an Olympic sport.

However, Oran dons a green Irish linen suit with a badge depicting the four provinces of Ireland.

"I'm really pleased with the bear," Carol told The Coleraine Times. "I put in a lot of work and hand sewed its clothes myself, so I just hope that it can do Coleraine and indeed Ireland proud.

"I am delighted to have been asked to take part, and even if I don't win any medals, the very fact that my bear is taking part means something to me. It's not every day you get to design a bear especially for your country. Taking part in a competition like this raises my profile, so now my work will be seen in Asia.

"I really hope I can secure some votes from our local towns and as my bears are sold all over Ireland, It would be nice to get support from across the whole of Ireland."

Public voting takes place from Monday,July 7 to Thursday. August 7. So get voting now for Carol's bear at www.emerald-bears.com,

You will also find competition details there.