OPINION: The Bears of Sheffield are helping to provide the summer uplift we all need
The Bears of Sheffield are bright, colourful and fun and even more importantly – they are helping to raise much-needed funds for the new cancer wars at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Excitement began to grow as soon as it was announced that a trail of 160 bear sculptures, comprised of 60 large ones and 100 small ones, would arrive in the city this summer.
It came five years after the popular Herd of Elephants trail raised more £410,600 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital (SCH) when they were sold at auction.
Just as with the Herd of Elephants, each of the Bears have been sponsored and each one features a unique design created by a selection of Sheffield artists and creatives.
They include Sheffield illustrator, Geo Law, who designed the Be Nice & Be Together Bear that you can find on The Moor; Pete McKee’s Thank You SCH Bear which is placed on Hallam Square and displays his signature style and Doug by artist Jo Peel, which you can find at Park Hill.
The big Bears are dotted across the city in parks and public spaces including Attercliffe; Ecclesall; Hill Top; Crystal Peaks; Meadowhall and the city centre.
Meanwhile the 100 little Bears have been painted by schools, colleges and nurseries, are in mainly public indoor settings such as shops and libraries.
They are part of a major fundraising effort by The Children’s Hospital Charity, which is raising £2.75 million for a new cancer and leukaemia ward at SCH.
The bear design is based on the David Mayne sculpture that is on display in the old bear pit at Sheffield Botanical Gardens.
The trail has been so popular that the Bears of Sheffield website, which features a map of where to find the Bears, crashed on its first day.
It’s easy to see why the Bears are so popular, they add a touch of surprise and colour to the city’s public spaces.
Every time I discover a new sculpture, it is surrounded by a small crowd of people, taking photographs and enjoying its presence.
Just as with the bear design being based on the old bear pit, many of the Bears reflect Sheffield’s proud history.
They are also indicative of a city bursting full of creativity and life, and for me, they have been the perfect summer uplift.