COLUMN: Remembering when a huge Mickey Mouse adorned the outside of Sheffield Children's Hospital

He's synonymous with Disney, well known to generations of children, the larger-than-life iconic character at Disney World, Florida, and Disneyland, Paris.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 12:21 pm

Yes, we're talking about Mickey Mouse.

But how many of us remember Mickey's association with Sheffield?

You'd have to be of a certain vintage to recall today how in the mid-Seventies a huge figure of Disney's mascot adorned one of the city's most iconic buildings.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - JULY 11: In this handout photo provided by Walt Disney World Resort, Mickey Mouse pauses on Main Street, U.S.A. just before sunrise at Walt Disney World Resort on July 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Kent Phillips/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images)

A huge Mickey hung on the outside of the Children's Hospital - the symbol of the successful fundraising Roof House Appeal to raise £100,000 to provide a play centre and accommodation for the families of sick children.

There were far fewer issues with copyright back in 1976. Today, one imagines, we'd need to jump through hoops to get permission from the Disney corporation for permission to use Mickey's image!

This particular Mickey - and an excellent one he was too - was created for free by students and staff of the industrial design section of Sheffield Polytechnic's school of art and design.

One of his hands pointed to the appeal's target and the other to the current total.

Sheffield Children's Hospital roof house appeal - Mrs Patricia Strafford (left) and her friend, Mrs Ann Perkins (next to her), representing the Kiveton and District Women's Association, hand over a cheque to Prof John Emery of the Sheffield Children's Hospital. Also on the picture is Miss Daphne MacCormack, Chief Nursing Officer. The money from Kiveton was raised by a sponsored knitting competition. Just as the cheque was being presented, Prof Emery announced that an additional placard (shown on the picture) is to be added to the giant Roof House Appeal target notice board outside the hospital in Weston Bank. This is because of the bogey of inflation, July 4, 1977

But, of course, passing pranksters couldn't help themselves...

Mickey's hand mysteriously began to fluctuate wildly!

Has someone been dipping into the fund we wondered? Of course not, some jokers had been fiddling with the mouse.

In fact Mickey was regularly messed with. Just before Christmas 1977 he mysteriously changed identity and turned into eminent surgeon Prof Robert Zachary.

Sheffield Children's Hospital roof house appeal This huge Mickey Mouse on the outside wall of the Children's Hospital is certainly an effective means of drawing attention to the appeal for a play centre and accommodation for familes of sick children. August 11, 1976

But it was all in a good cause - students scaled the Roof House Appeal indicator to give a special Christmas greeting to their 'Zac' - his last before retiring.

The prof took it in good spirits - 'I take it as a very great compliment' he is quoted as saying.

And as for Mickey? He was unavailable for comment.