Bringing together schools, artists and communities, the Bears of Sheffield trail launches today to support a fundraising drive to build a new children’s cancer ward.
160 of the distinctive bears now be found across the city – 60 big bears standing two metres tall, as well as 100 little bears.
The big bears have been sponsored by local businesses, organisations and families, while the little bears have been funded and decorated by schools, nurseries and colleges.
There is also an extra special Theo Bear sculpture, The Children’s Hospital’s Charity’s mascot.
Event Organiser Cheryl Davidson explained: “The day is finally here! We are delighted that from today, the Bears of Sheffield are in place for people to get outside, collect the bears, explore and celebrate our wonderful city, all for a great cause.
“We would like to place on record our thanks to everyone who has got their paws dirty working so hard behind the scenes to bring this exciting trail to the people of Sheffield.”
Visit www.bearsofsheffield.co.uk and start collecting the bears on the app to earn ‘Paw Points’ and redeem special offers along the way. There is also a league table to see which bear receives the most donations.
Alongside the launch of the trail, a linked fundraising challenge also launches today.
The ‘Bearathon’ involves running, walking, cycling or swimming 2.75km a day for 30 days.
The distance of the challenge represents the £2.75m needed to fund the new cancer and leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Ruth Brown, Acting Chief Executive at Sheffield Children’s, said: “I am so excited to see the bears come out of hibernation and be out across the city! I was lucky enough to see the unique pieces of art before their paws hit the road and each design is outstanding.
“Thank you to everyone who has worked to create the trail, the money raised from the project will make such a huge difference to our patients and their families for years to come.”
Among the stunning big bear sculptures on display from today is ‘Thank you Sheffield Children’s Hospital’, a poignant tribute to the NHS designed by charity patron Pete McKee.
Pete said: “When it came to naming my bear, I wanted to incorporate a message into the title: Thank You Sheffield Children’s Hospital. This bear represents the feelings of love and gratitude felt by us parents who have ever needed to use their amazing services.
“We thank you for looking after those most precious to us. We love you NHS.”
Steeped in Sheffield heritage, the sculptures have been produced by model and prototype manufacturers, Darnall-based 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.