How you can go on a bear hunt - and help Sheffield Children’s Hospital this summer
There is a new animal in town! The Children’s Hospital Charity are delighted to confirm that the Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail will take place this summer, raising vital funds for Sheffield Children’s.
Bringing together families and friends, businesses, schools, artists and the community, the trail will begin in July 2021 and support the fundraising drive to build a new Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s.
The trail will comprise of 60 big bears, standing at 2.1m tall, which are sponsored by local businesses, organisations and families, as well as 100 little bears which have been fundraised for and decorated by schools, nurseries and colleges.
Event Organiser Cheryl Davidson explained: “The Bears of Sheffield will be a great opportunity for us to get outside, explore Sheffield and celebrate our wonderful city, all for a good cause. We’re delighted the trail will make its long-awaited entrance this summer.
“It will showcase the vision, creativity and generosity of our community. Whether sponsoring a bear, shouting about the trail, donating, or taking on your own challenge or bear-themed event, we can’t wait for everyone to enjoy the trail this summer.”
The trail will begin exactly a year later than initially planned, after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Charity and key partners are now increasingly confident the vital fundraiser can take place this summer.
Cheryl continues: “Since the postponement last year, we have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the Bears of Sheffield can be enjoyed safely. This has included assessing each location to ensure social distancing can be followed, discouraging touching of the sculptures, and limiting the amount placed closely to one other.
“We have and continue to work closely with Sheffield City Council and other key partners to ensure the project adheres to the government guidelines and I would like to place on record our thanks to them for helping to bring the Bears to Sheffield this summer.”
The Bears of Sheffield are being brought to life by artists of all ages, both amateur and professional, in isolation or in small groups. The sculptures have been produced by model and prototype manufacturers, Simpson Patterns Ltd.
The design has been based on the Botanical Gardens bear created by local artist and sculptor David Mayne. Mr Mayne worked to recreate a smoother bear specifically for the project which could be painted whilst retaining the essence of the original.
After the trail is complete, each small bear will be returned to its school, nursery or college as a permanent memento of the project. The larger bears will be auctioned off at a special event to raise funds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council said: "After the huge success of the elephant trail there is much anticipation and excitement to welcome the Bears of Sheffield across the city. At a time when our cultural sector has suffered so many challenges the Bears will bring a fantastic collection of expression and vibrancy to Sheffield this summertime.
“It's wonderful to see how people react to the different representations of each piece of art, I can't wait to see children 'going on a bear hunt' and Sheffielders sharing photos of their favourites. Thank you to everyone behind the scenes who got their paws dirty working so hard to bring this exhibition to the streets of Sheffield."
Sheffield BID has been announced as an official Bears of Sheffield headline sponsor, alongside Sheffield Hallam University. It is hoped the trail can repeat the success of the Herd of Sheffield in 2016, when elephant sculptures attracted around 175,000 visitors to the city.
Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID Manager added: “As a headline sponsor, we’re delighted that the BID investment is supporting the creation of another exciting and visual sculpture trail that will animate the whole of the city centre.
“Once the restrictions are eased, The Bears of Sheffield will encourage visitors and residents back into the city. It demonstrates Sheffield BID’s continued commitment to delivering additional activities which support the vibrancy and economic growth of our city through collaboration.”
“The trail will bring atmosphere to the city centre and provide a fun-family friendly activity to put a smile back on people’s faces, as well as driving spend onto our retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
“As one of the first major events to be held since the pandemic, The Bears of Sheffield will demonstrate that the city is once again open for business as we welcome people back safely.”
As well as providing a much-needed boost to the local economy, it is hoped the total raised will surpass the £610,000 raised for Sheffield Children’s through the Herd of Sheffield.
The fundraising could not come at a more vital time, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the charity’s fundraising by around 35% in the last financial year, a decline of £1.3 million. The monies raised will help Sheffield Children’s where it is needed most, including by redeveloping the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at the hospital.
A centre of excellence, the Oncology and Haematology department at Sheffield Children’s covers a population spanning an area from South Yorkshire through to Nottingham and Grimsby.
The ward provides treatment for cancer and blood disorders in children from babies through to 19-year-olds in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. It also sees patients from across the UK for chemotherapy, operations, and bone marrow transplants.
It is hoped the new space will be fully funded by charitable donations in less than 9 months’ time, yet how much the space can be improved will depend on how much can be raised in the intervening period.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield City Region, said: “I’m so pleased to hear that The Children’s Hospital Charity is building on the success of the Herd of Sheffield and that the Bears will be landing this summer.
“It has been such a challenging year for people across South Yorkshire and the Bears will give our residents and visitors the opportunity to explore the best of what Sheffield has to offer in a fun and active way.
“It’s heartening to see that so much hard work has gone into making this trail safe and so many young people, community members and businesses are dedicating their time to help raise money for such a hugely worthwhile Charity. I very much look forward to it and will do what I can to support.”
You can follow the Bears of Sheffield’s progress on Twitter @BearsofSheff, or @bearsofsheffield on Facebook and Instagram.