Are you ready to go on a bear hunt? Well, you will definitely spot a BIG one – or 160 – as a beary bright and bold art exhibition makes its way to Sheffield this summer.
For those who remember the herd of giant painted elephants that popped up around the city in 2016, the Bears of Sheffield is another pawsome idea from The Children’s Hospital Charity to raise thousands of pounds to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
From Monday 12th July until Wednesday 29th September, the streets of Sheffield will be turned into a trail where families can go exploring to find a pack of painted bears.
Inspired by the charity’s mascot, Theo the Bear, and the iconic sculpture in the Botanical Gardens’ bear pit, there will be 60 Big Bears standing proud at over seven-feet tall along with 100 one-metre Little Bears.
Each of the 60 Big Bears have been painted by a local, regional or national artist, resulting in an eclectic mix of designs that will wow against the Sheffield backdrop. Designs cover everything from footballs and eyeballs to galaxies and the environment. Many of the Big Bears also pay homage to the city, such as Bertie Bear covered in Liquorice Allsorts, Snoobear for the World Snooker Championships, and Hendo’s Bear in the striking orange and black colours of Sheffield’s iconic spicy sauce.
The Big Bears have all been sponsored by businesses or families from the region and, once the trail has ended, they will be auctioned off to add to the fundraising total.
The 100 Little Bears have been designed and painted by South Yorkshire schools who had to raise £750 to take part. One of those bears has been decorated by pupils from Ravenfield Primary Academy in Rotherham.
Their bear, called ‘Together is a wonderful place to Bee’, is the idea of year 4 pupil Olivia and features a bright and eye-catching hexagonal pattern in red and yellow.
Fellow pupil Isabella, from Year 6, explained the meaning behind its unique bright design: “The bear shows how we are all stuck together. We are bees, and the bees make their honeycomb together and they all have to work together to do it!”
Pupils worked with the design team from the charity’s education partner, Twinkl, who provided virtual support and resources to help them create their design. The school also raised £4,000 for the charity by doing everything from bake sales to story writing competitions and even a sponsored bear hunt.
Caroline Coates, principal of Ravenfield Academy, said: “I decided that I wanted our school to get involved with the Bears of Sheffield project as we had previously been involved in the Herd of Sheffield, and that was a really great way to work together as a school and raise money for a great cause. Even though we are a school based in Rotherham, lots of our children over the years have accessed support from The Sheffield Children’s Hospital and have friends who have done so.”
The event was supposed to take place last year but was postponed due to the pandemic. But the fundraising could not come at a more vital time, as the pandemic has reduced the charity’s fundraising by around 35 percent 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. The ward treats children with cancer and blood disorders from babies through to 19 years old from South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and as far south as Northampton.
Some may stay for a few days during chemotherapy while others could spend anything up to a year on the ward. The renovated ward would mean, no matter how long a child stays, they would all experience a home-from-home atmosphere to provide comfort to patients and their families during those difficult times.
The main aim is to create a calming sanctuary on the ward where children and their families can remain together with increased space, privacy and natural light, plus maximised views over the neighbouring Weston Park.
Some of the investment planned is to move the playroom and school room onto the ward, create an adolescent room for the teenage patients, and add parent facilities and bathrooms. This means when families need a shower for example, they will be able to remain on the same ward which is not possible at the moment. More space means parents can get a good night’s sleep alongside their child.
But how can you get involved?
It’s simple – visit the bears! Whenever you’re walking around the city, keep your eyes peeled for these colourful creatures and be sure to tick them off on a map, which can be collected from Bear Central next to the Winter Gardens, or on the app. If you like the design, you can donate to that bear’s page on the website: www.bearsofsheffield.com