The Bears of Sheffield plans to bring fun to Yorkshire

24th March 2020

The city-wide sculpture trail will be coming to the streets of Sheffield this summer, with both Big Bears, painted by local, regional and even national artists, and Little Bears, decorated by schools across Yorkshire.

After the success of the Herd of Sheffield in 2016 with the stampede of elephants, it’s no wonder The Children’s Hospital Charity are back again, just this time with bears!

The campaign is raising funds to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital – which treats children and teenagers from across Yorkshire and The Humber with cancer and blood disorders.

Oncology and Haematology is just one of the hospitals specialisms and is a 14-bedded unit, with six isolation cubicles, used mainly for children who need to be isolated to prevent infections, something which is very important during these unprecedented times.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is one of only three specialist standalone children’s hospitals in the UK. Over 183,000 children from Sheffield visited during 2018/19, along with nearly 19,000 from Rotherham, over 13,000 for Barnsley. And over 11,000 from Doncaster.

Many specialisms resided within its walls such as ground-breaking sleep study programme helps over 800 families and children with chronic sleep problems each year. Neurosciences; the top performing neuro-surgery centre in the country for brain tumour removal and after care, as well as the most advanced and patient focussed intra-operative 3T MRI theatre set-up in the UK.

Children come from all over the world to see clinicians who are respected both nationally and internationally in their fields with the Metabolic Bone Disease Service being the largest of its kind in Western Europe.

After the success of the Herd of Sheffield in 2016 with the stampede of elephants, The Children’s Hospital Charity are back again with a city wide, mass participation art exhibition and it’s beary exciting!

But the question on everyone’s lips is- why bears? The elephant trail three years ago was inspired by World War One elephant Lizzie who was employed by the steel industry in Sheffield as the cities horses were employed by the military.

The theme for the bear trail comes from the charity mascot Theo and the well-known Sheffield bear sculpture located in the Botanical Garden’s bear pit. David Mayne, the designer of the bear in the Botanical Garden’s said: “It was a real surprise when the charity asked if the original design could be used.

“I never realised just how iconic and how well loved this sculpture would become. I have worked on numerous public art commissions throughout the country but this piece has always been my personal favourite and probably will be for the rest of my career.

“I found it fascinating visiting the company who have created the Bears for the sculpture trail, recreating a smoother bear that can be painted whilst most importantly retaining an essence of the original, and I’m absolutely thrilled that my sculpture could be the reason that thousands of pounds are raised for the children’s hospital.”

The company producing the bear sculpture is Simpson Patterns Ltd, a Sheffield company based in Darnall who specialise in services from design, modelling, prototype and manufacturing solution to specific engineering requirements.

Mark Rixham, Managing Director of Simpson Patterns Ltd said: “We are honoured to have been selected to work with The Children’s Hospital Charity on this project alongside fellow Sheffield artist David Mayne to bring his bear to life.

“Working on this project has been a team effort. We are hoping it to be a resounding success for the charity. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of our work and joint collaboration installed around Sheffield beautifully decorated by a number of talented artists.”

The first to decorate a bear will be local artist Jo Peel, whose work documents everyday scenes, telling stories over the world around her as she explores its changing face. Her work can be seen around Sheffield in the form of huge public murals.

Cheryl Davidson, Project Manager of the bears at the charity added: “We wanted to incorporate the personality of bears into everything we do for this trail. Although some might be named grizzly, bears are gentle and tolerant by nature.

“They can be empathetic, joyful, playful and social in character. So, whenever you see one of our bears on the trail next year make sure you give them a big, giant bear hug!”

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