Engadine toy maker continues to make children smile with home-made teddies

Much-loved hobby: Ron Butts, 85, makes all of the toys he donates to sick children in hospital. Picture: John Veage
Much-loved hobby: Ron Butts, 85, makes all of the toys he donates to sick children in hospital. Picture: John Veage

At 85 years of age, Ron Butts is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Engadine resident has been making toys for sick children from his living room since 1972.

From wooden wheelbarrows and forts, to doll houses and mini-cars, Mr Butts has created quite the collection.

He estimates that he has made about 800 teddy bears, and picture scrapbooks for children who cannot read.

“I’ve made little farmyards with fences and paddocks, which are good physio for the kids because they exercise their hands by moving the animals around,” Mr Butts said.

“I would also call oil companies and they would send out company stickers to put on mini-garages I’d made.”

He has donated more than 2000 items to Westmead Children’s and Prince of Wales hospitals, Vinnie’s and the Salvation Army.

Mr Butts worked as an engineer on navy submarines.

He once shared a love of making toys with his late wife, who had a stroke 17 years ago.

“We never had any children, but we always loved children,” Mr Butts said.

“My wife used to make clothes and quilts for the dolls but she couldn’t sew a straight line. My mother taught me to sew when I was 8, so I would do it. I continued doing it.

“Lots of friends from golf and church know what I do, so every now and then they drop bags of wool on my front patio.

“I can’t sit down and do nothing – I have to be busy, even when the TV is on, I like to do a bit of knitting.

“It keeps my brain active.”

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