BLOG: Elmer’s Big Parade: The Final Chapter

Having delighted tens of thousands of people this summer, getting them out on foot across our city ‘hunting’ for the 40 enchanting Elmer sculptures that made up Elmer’s Big Parade, Devon’s biggest public art event of the year is set to go out with style!

Our mammoth mob is not going quietly – in fact, there’s a three-day celebration on the horizon! The mustn’t-miss, last-chance opportunity to get up close to the 40 full-size Elmers and the 25 ‘mini’ sculptures painted by local schools is happening between Friday 4 and Sunday 6 October at Herd HQ in the former Toys R Us store at Western Approach.

After this, the elephants’ trunks will be packed as they head off to their new homes having gone under the hammer at our Grand Charity Auction to raise money for our compassionate care.

As well as providing a free family friendly activity, our mammoth mob – each one individually painted by a talented artist – have been on a very important mission, raising awareness of our charity, the importance of the high-calibre end of life care we provide and the difference it makes to our community.

The upcoming Farewell Weekend will give people the opportunity to meet the artists involved in the project, including internationally renowned Brian Pollard, Patron of St Luke’s, and is an opportunity for people who might have missed the trail itself, not been able to see all the sculptures, or simply want to see Elmer’s chunky chums again and bring visiting family this time.

Adrian Carey, Project Manager for Elmer’s Big Parade, said: “We have been blown away by the success of Elmer’s Big Parade, which has been one of the most popular trails of its kind in the UK.

“Seeing so many families out discovering the sculptures has been heart-warming and we’re pleased to have provided them with a free, fun activity that also highlighted the vital end of life care St Luke’s provides. Our Farewell Weekend is an exciting opportunity to see all the sculptures together, take photographs and – if they’d like – snap up Elmer merchandise. We look forward to welcoming them to Herd HQ!”

With demand for places expected to be high, everyone who purchases a ticket will be allocated a one-hour session at Herd HQ. Tickets are priced £5 each for adults and £3 for under-16s, with free entry for children under two. Opening times are: Friday 4 October: 12 – 7pm, Saturday 5 October: 9am – 7pm, and Sunday 6 October: 9am – 4pm. The first session of each day is reserved for families of children and adults with autism or related conditions who might require more comfort. This ‘quiet session’ will feature subdued lighting and low music and have minimal noise. These times are restricted to 100 people and may also suit wheelchair users.

The VIP Grand Charity Auction is taking place on the evening of 9 October, also at Herd HQ, where a celebrity host will join the man wielding the hammer, Paul Keen of Plymouth Auction Rooms. It is hoped each Elmer auctioned will raise at least £4,000 for St Luke’s to help us continue our vital service.

Paul said: “Over the years we’ve sold a number of items for St Luke’s at the auction rooms, so I wasn’t that surprised when we were asked to do this special auction, but I didn’t really expect it to be as impressive as it is. St Luke’s do so much in providing compassionate care in Plymouth, that they need as much support as they can, and ultimately, it’s financial support. This auction is on such a high platform, and it gives us the opportunity to raise as much as we possibly can.”

Steve Statham, Chief Executive of St Luke’s, said: “Almost everyone in our city is likely to require St Luke’s compassionate care one day, or be close to someone who does. That’s why we aim to attract substantial bids for these unique pieces of art that will help us continue to be there for families, enabling them to make the most of every moment together when time is running short.

“We want Elmer’s Big Parade to leave a special legacy beyond the trail and our Grand Auction is a fantastic opportunity to be part of that.”

To find out more about the Farewell Weekend and the Grand Charity Auction, please visit elmerplymouth.co.uk/events.