A TEACHER and town centre businesswoman have joined forces to help comfort children in distressing situations.

The Pandas4Pandas scheme will see specially designed teddy bears carried in all Cheshire Police cars to give to children caught up in incidents across the county.

Although the idea was first mooted after the Manchester Arena attack last May, it took special sergeant – and high school teacher – Sarah Johns and Crafty Stitches owner Louise Hough to get the idea off the ground.

A few weeks after the attack, which killed 22 innocent people, Special Sergeant Johns, 38, attended a domestic violence call in which a young child was present.

Special Sergeant Johns, 38, said: “This child was extremely upset and all I could do was use my communication skills to make her laugh and play with my torch.

“I wished that I had something for this three-year-old girl who was out of her comfort zone and I bet the officers who dealt with the vulnerable young survivors of the Manchester Arena terror attack felt the same.

“As well as being part of Cheshire’s Special Constabulary I am also a teacher. A lot of children at the school where I worked at the time went to the Ariana Grande concert and they were traumatised by what happened that night.

“The Manchester bombing and the domestic violence incident I attended soon after it sparked the idea of using Teddy bears to help comfort children in distressing situations.

“I spoke to my Inspector Lewy Lewtas about it and he said that if I can find people who will make the bears and they are safe for children then he is all in favour of it.

“We piloted the initiative in Northwich and I am delighted to say that it is now being rolled out across the force.”

She added: "Teddy bears break down barriers in difficult situations. I know from my own experiences of using them when on duty with Cheshire Police that they are highly effective in keeping children calm and stopping them from feeling afraid of the police."

The black and white pandas are now on hand in all police cars, following a full launch at the Lord Ferrers Awards in London on October 16.

Louise Hough runs the 'Chicks that Knit' group at Crafty Stitches, in High Street. She offered to knit the bears for free and the concept has now caught on with a number of groups.

She said: “We love to help the community as much as we can and the free work we do for the Pandas4Pandas initiative is our way of showing our support to the police for all that they do for the general public.

“The initiative also shows families in their time of need that someone is thinking about them and provides a little bit of comfort and hope.”

The scheme has been praised by Cheshire Police acting chief constable Janette McCormick and MP Nick Hurd, minister of state for policing and the fire service.