The Bears are coming to Sheffield

Are you ready to go on a bear hunt?

Well, you will definitely spot a BIG one – or 160 – as a beary beautiful 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.

This year, the charity hopes to create the biggest mass-participation event ever to grace Sheffield, with more sculptures, artists, schools and sponsors involved. They are also hoping to top last time’s grand total of £610,000 raised for the children’s hospital.

From Monday 13th July until Sunday 13th 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.

The bears have been produced by model and prototype manufacturers, Simpson Patterns Ltd of Darnall, who have created a bear mould to replicate the original Botanical Gardens bear which was designed by David Mayne.

All 160 bears are currently in hibernation and eagerly being painted by artists and school children ready for the big reveal this summer.

Each of the Big Bears will be painted by a local, regional or national artist, resulting in an eclectic mix of designs that will wow against the Sheffield backdrop.

Many of the artists involved work closely with the children’s hospital, including Jo Peel who previously painted the Flammable Liquid Store and other large murals around the city and is the first artist to complete her bear design in her recognisable style.

Artist, Jo Peel, with her Big Bear

Other artists involved include Morag Myerscough, Thereza Rowe, William Luz and Nicolas Burrows, with more to be announced at the end of April.

The hundred Little Bears are being designed and painted by South Yorkshire schools which are all avidly raising £750 to take part.

With so many colourful bears to spot, be sure to give them a big bear hug if you see them.

Once the exhibition is over, all the bears will be auctioned off in October to raise money towards transforming the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s 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 use the new en-suite facilities and 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.

To help exceed their target of £610,000, The Children’s Hospital Charity are grateful for the many local businesses and organisations that have sponsored the Big Bears, including one of exhibition’s main sponsors, Sheffield BID (Business Improvement District).

Sheffield BID sponsored the Herd in 2016 and are proud to throw their support behind the cause again with the Bears.

“The BID has always, and will continue, to support great events that can help deliver economic growth in Sheffield city centre. In addition to raising much-needed funds for the charity, the trail also benefits the city centre’s traders – driving footfall, supporting the local economy and contributing to the vibrancy of the city centre.

“The elephants helped to attract over 180,000 additional visitors to the city centre, so when we found out that the sculpture trail was coming back with the Bears of Sheffield we were keen to be involved again,” Sheffield BID Manager, Diane Jarvis says.

To get involved with the this beary special cause, keep your eyes peeled on their social media channels: Twitter @BearsofSheff, Facebook @bearsofsheffield and Instagram @bearsofsheffield

Or sign up to their mailing list for regular updates.