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It’s a wrap! Elmer’s Big Parade – Devon’s biggest public art event of 2019 – is coming to an end, but the mammoth mob is not going quietly. In fact, there’s an ele-fantastic Farewell Weekend in store for the whole family to enjoy.

Having spread a huge smile across iconic locations in Plymouth for ten weeks this summer, the sculpture trail featuring 40 colourful, individually painted elephants – each sponsored by a local business – is set for a big ‘farewell’ celebration before trunks are packed and the elephants prepare to be auctioned off in aid of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth.

From Friday 4 to Sunday 6 October, Herd HQ in the former Toys R Us building at Western Approach will throw open its doors to welcome people keen to see the hefty herd all together under one roof, where they can get a close-up look at the unique designs created by talented artists, including internationally renowned painter Brian Pollard.

Not only will they see the fabulous 40 who’ve enchanted the tens of thousands of visitors out on foot around Plymouth, they’ll also meet the 25 marvellous mini Elmers painted by children at local schools where St Luke’s works together with staff as part of its Compassionate Schools programme, which tackles the taboo topics of death, dying and life-limiting illness in an age-appropriate way and enhances support for bereaved children.

The event – which is ticketed – is a great opportunity for those who may not have had the chance to follow the trail, or those who want to see their favourite sculptures again. It’s also a chance for those who’ve already seen the stunning designs to invite family and friends to visit the city and share the fun experience with them.

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 the city has ever seen.

“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.

To find out more about the Farewell Weekend, please visit the Elmer’s Big Parade website.

Purchase your tickets here.

One of Plymouth’s most loved charities is offering you the opportunity to take home your very own Elmer the Elephant while supporting the vital care the service provides across the community.

Tens of thousands of you have had loads of fun this summer, discovering the 65 individually painted, enchanting elephant sculptures in Elmer’s Big Parade as you’ve followed the trail across iconic locations in our city and Mount Edgcumbe. And – as well as providing a free, fun day out – the herd has been on an important mission, highlighting the specialist work of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, which cares for people with life limiting illnesses and supports the loved ones around them.

Before the stunning pieces of art go under the hammer at the Grand Charity Auction on 9 October, to raise vital funds for the charity, there’s a chance to win your very own ‘Young Elmer’!

The sculpture you can scoop in the raffle in aid of St Luke’s is very special, having been painted in the design of the classic Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by talented local illustrator Dave Smith. Dave’s work has featured in the well-loved ‘Horrible Histories’ franchise, and he is also the artist behind the Elmer’s Big Parade sculpture ‘Britain’s Ocean City’, which is sponsored by Fairway Furniture and situated on the green at the Royal William Yard.

This fantastic raffle prize is varnished with high-quality glaze which makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor life. Standing approximately 70cm high, it is the same size as the ‘Young Elmers’ painted by local schools that have been on their very own education trail at Mount Edgecumbe. These mini marvels will be returning to the schools as a legacy for their involvement with Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth and a tool for St Luke’s to continue to work alongside teaching staff as part of the ‘compassionate schools’ programme, which tackles the taboo topics of death, dying and life limiting illness in an age-appropriate way.

Raffle tickets are on sale at all St Luke’s charity shops and other locations such as Fairway Furniture in Plymouth and Tavistock, priced £1 each. The funds raised will help the charity continue the specialist care it provides for patients at home, in hospital and at its specialist unit at Turnchapel.

St Luke’s Adrian Carey, Project Manager for Elmer’s Big Parade, said: “This is a prize money just can’t buy and a unique memento of Elmer’s Big Parade, which has delighted so many people this summer while raising awareness of the vital care St Luke’s provides. Not only has it been colourfully painted by popular and talented artist Dave Smith, it will continue to bring delight long after our other elephants have packed their trunks and headed off to their new homes.”

For more information on Elmer’s Big Parade and events, please visit www.elmerplymouth.co.uk.

Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth is kindly sponsored by Stagecoach South West.