Teddy bears were out in force during the Pershore Plum Festival with attendees celebrating their favourite childhood toys at the annual teddy bear service, parachute and abseil.

During the bank holiday weekend event, the town’s Teddies were invited to not just a special service during which the annual presentation of plums were made, but to make daring jumps from the great heights of Pershore Abbey’s tower.

Appreciation of these faithful childhood companions began on Bank Holiday Sunday with the delightful Teddy Praise Service, led by Pershore Abbey’s priest-in-charge Rev Claire Lording.

In a change to usual tradition, Rev Lording welcomed Teddies and their owners to the service held not in the Abbey as has been custom, but at the bandstand in Abbey Park.

Teddies of all ages congregated at the hay bales amid the glorious sunshine to hear Rev Lording lead a salutation to the loyal Teddy bear and where attendees were asked to pond the special relationship they have with their bears.

“They give great comfort,” came one answer. “They are there for you when you need them,” came another as Rev Lording talked of the great importance to love – and show love – to the people (and teddies) around us.

One of the oldest Teddy-bears in attendance belonged to Assistant Bishop of the Diocese, the Rt Rev Michael Hooper, who said: “I love my Teddy bear because I have had her all my life. She is 78 years old!”

Asking the congregation to guess his bear’s name, Rev Hooper said: “She shares a name with our wonderful vicar whose infectious joy for life keeps us all on our toes.”

Other teddies in attendance included Floppy, Algernon, Twinkle, Jock, two called Jeremy and, belonging to retired church warden Dr Judy Dale, a bear known simply as Teddy.

Dr Dale said: “The annual teddy service is such a lovely occasion and to bring it outside to welcome everyone together in the park is great and of course it coincides with Pershore Abbey’s tradition of the handover of the first of the season’s plums as a peppercorn rent for its ongoing use of St Andrew’s Centre.”

St Andrew’s Centre, which is owned by the Diocese of Pershore, used as a community centre for both the Abbey and the town, is made available for use by the Abbey thanks to the payment of a punnet of plums each year.

“Here’s to celebrating our friends and Teddy bears,” said Rev Lording in farewell.