A grieving husband has paid tribute to his “wonderful” wife by fulfilling her final wish for her prized collection of luxury teddy bears.

Annie Barber died last year at the age of 66 after a long battle with a condition that went undiagnosed for many years, Lyme disease.

The mum of three, who is described by her husband as “kind, generous, considerate and caring to the end”, began collecting the popular Steiff and Charlie bears when the progressive illness made many of her previous pastimes no longer possible.

“She remained undiagnosed for many years until a naturopathic medical practitioner diagnosed her with a long-term Lyme infection,” said her husband of 24 years, Nick, from Sheffield.

“We discovered along our journey that many other people too similarly struggle with obtaining a diagnosis from the NHS and / or treatment for this horrendous disease.

“By nature Annie was a determined, positive, outgoing person until her illness defeated her.

“She was kind, generous, considerate and caring to the end, and had a particular love for cats.

“Annie started to collect teddy bears when her illness started to rob her of a normal life, amassing a large number which both gave her an interest and provided comfort.

“She decided that Bluebell Wood was a logical and appropriate place for them when she was no longer around to enjoy them.

“Annie was very generous in respect of charitable donations and would have been very pleased knowing that her bears would continue to be of benefit."

“It is comforting to me to have taken, to date, some of her collection to Bluebell Wood and I hope that in some way Annie knows that her wish is being fulfilled.”

Nick has hand-delivered 32 of the lovingly looked-after bears to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, and he is leaving the remainder of the substantial collection to the charity in his will.

Terri Hanson, Head of Retail at Bluebell Wood, said: “On behalf of our extended Bluebell Wood family, I’d like to offer our sincere condolences to Nick and all who had the pleasure of knowing Annie.

“It’s clear she was a remarkable woman and we’re incredibly moved by her final gesture of kindness.

“It’s our privilege to be able to find a loving new home for her marvellous collection of bears, and we can’t thank Annie and Nick enough for their thoughtful generosity.”