Bears of Sheffield trail passes £1m for Sheffield Children's Hospital, as Bear Miles challenge is launched

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The record-breaking Bears of Sheffield art trail has raised a staggering £1 million for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, it has been revealed.

And to mark the anniversary of the spectacle, which brought the city together for a great cause last summer, a new charity challenge is being launched to push that total even higher.

The city's largest ever public arts project last year saw 60 large bear statues, standing 2.1 metres tall, sponsored by organisations and families, decorated by different artists and placed around the city for people to find.

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Another 100 smaller bear sculptures were decorated by schools, nurseries and colleges, which also helped to raise money for The Children’s Hospital Charity.

The Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail raised more than £1 million for Sheffield Children's HospitalThe Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail raised more than £1 million for Sheffield Children's Hospital
The Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail raised more than £1 million for Sheffield Children's Hospital

Once the trail ended, the bears were auctioned off to raise even more money for the charity, with buyers including Dan Walker and his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova, who paid £20,000 for the eyecatching golden ‘Nano’ bear.

The auction generated £525,000 and the charity has now revealed that together with £188,000 in donations and fundraising, £129,000 from schools, colleges and nurseries, £91,000 from Bears-themed merchandise, and £19,400 from ticket sales for the Farewell Event at Meadowhall, the final total stands at £1,047,000.

That far exceeds the £600,000 raised by the charity’s previous elephant sculpture trail, the Herd of Sheffield, in 2016.

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Not only did it help complete the three-year appeal for a new cancer and leukaemia ward, which opened at the hospital last December, but the money left over will go towards the campaign to build a new helipad there.

Project manager Cheryl Davidson said: “The Bears of Sheffield brightened areas across the city last summer and showcased the creativity of the next generation too.

“They provided visitors and residents alike with the opportunity to explore places they’ve never seen before and celebrate the best of Sheffield’s diverse heritage.

“We are delighted to be able to reveal for the first time today the full impact of the difference everyone who supported the trail has made.

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“This event was planned against the backdrop of ever-changing Covid-19 regulations and substantial economic uncertainty, so to raise so much beyond our expectations is an amazing achievement for everyone involved, as well as a real reflection of the depth of affection held in our community for Sheffield Children’s.”

To raise even more money for the helipad, a Bear Miles challenge is being launched to run throughout July, August and September, coinciding with the anniversary of the trail.

People will be asked to walk, run, swim or cycle one mile a day for 30 days, to help reach a wider community target of 2,021 miles – a target chosen in honour of what is being dubbed the ‘year of the bear’.

Cheryl said that after the fantastic response last summer the charity was calling on people to ‘step forward once again for our hospital’.

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Participants in the Bear Miles challenge can register for free or pay £15 to secure a limited-edition medal and plush bear at the end of the trail. The aim is to raise as much as you can to support Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Those who raise £50 will receive a Bears-themed magnet, pencil pot, notepad and notelet. Anyone who raises £100 will receive a tote bag, souvenir guide and keyring too.