The Big Sleuth Farewell Weekend

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October 9th, 2017

Several of us at Peters, along with our families, have joined people from all over the West Midlands, and beyond, this summer “going on a bear hunt” (to quote Michael Rosen, of course!). Our weekends saw many hundreds of miles travelled as we hunted down the 101 decorated fibreglass sun bear statues scattered across the length and breadth of the Birmingham region – although we were fortunate enough to be able to pass a couple every day as they were just around the corner from Peters’ office in central Birmingham. This was all in aid of The Big Sleuth, a Wild In Art project to raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital – “sleuth” being a collective term for a group of bears. With over five million social media interactions, The Big Sleuth has been by far and away the most popular project ever created by Wild In Art.

C.S Lewis once said in the classic children’s book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“For a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to an end; but that was not to be.”

We thought it was over but we were lucky enough to represent Peters when we received a special invitation to the launch of The Big Sleuth Farewell Weekend.

As a sponsor of The Little Sleuth, Little Bears Detective Club, a project which saw 132 local schools decorate a smaller version of the Big Sleuth sun bear (known as a “bear cub”), Peters were responsible for providing a set of teaching notes, lesson plans and book lists to support teachers in gaining ideas and linking this task to the National Curriculum requirements. We were very proud to see many suggestions from our teacher notes had been implemented and some very impressive little bears produced.

Several of The Big Sleuth bears’ themes or artwork were related to books or authors, including Bear Necessities (Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book), Shakesbear (William Shakespeare), Bearlock (Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes) and two Intrepid Bears, endorsed by Bear Grylls, an author of several children’s books.

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(l-r: Bear Necessities, Shakesbear, Bearlock and Intrepid Bears 1 & 2)

Birmingham’s Eastside City Park was awash with colour and creativity this weekend as we were welcomed by all 101 familiar faces that have caused such a stir in the Second City and the surrounding areas this summer. Seeing all the bears together made it clear just how much time and effort had been spent by the artists and the team at Wild In Art to ensure that each statue is unique and of a very high standard. Many designs also have links to Birmingham which makes them even more special.

Some examples include “Bearmingham”, “Gas Street Bearsin”, “Bear’indleyplace”, “Brummie Bear”, “Crunchie” and “Woakesy @ Edgbearston”.

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(l-r: Bearmingham, Gas Street Bearsin, Bear’indleyplace, Brummie Bear, Crunchie and Woakesy @ Edgbearston.

The weekend’s gathering of the bears was an ideal opportunity to see all 101 bears together before they go to their new forever homes. To raise money to support Birmingham Children’s Hospital, on Thursday 12th October 91 of the bears will be up for auction (https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/fieldings-auctioneers-ltd/catalogue-id-srfi10075) with all proceeds going to this charity. The winning bidders will have their own permanent reminder of the summer of 2017 when Birmingham was brimming with colourful bears. In 2015, at the equivalent auction that followed The Big Sleuth’s forerunner, The Big Hoot, £530,835 was raised for charity, with the highest amount paid for an owl statue being £18,000, and Birmingham Children’s Hospital are aiming to raise at least another £500,000 this time around too.

Even if you are not bidding for a bear, you can still support The Big Sleuth and Birmingham Children’s Hospital by donating online at https://www.bch.org.uk/donate, or by purchasing some of the bear-themed merchandise at https://store.bch.org.uk/bigsleuth. Remember, as Dr Seuss said in The Lorax

“It may seem small and insignificant, but it’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

For more information on past, present and future Wild In Art projects across the UK, please see http://www.wildinart.co.uk.

If you are lucky enough to become the proud owner of a Big Sleuth sun bear, we would like to remind you of how much time and effort have gone into making these creations that have captured the hearts of many and, in the words of Michael Bond in Paddington, we ask that you “Please look after this bear!”

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As I’m sure many will agree, this summer’s The Big Sleuth trail has provided hours of fun and opportunities to get out and about and explore parts of the city that we wouldn’t usually visit. Peters have been privileged to be a sponsor of such an amazing event and very much hope that there will be many more in the future.

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