As a new mum over 40, one of my priorities is to keep fit and healthy and joining in the fun of this year’s St Oswald’s Hospice Great North Elmer Parade was just the tonic.
For me, a brisk walk always helps to blow away the cobwebs and clear my head while it also keeps little legs motivated and moving too.
The Great North Elmer Trail across the North East offered up an all-round great adventure for our little family and it has to be one of the best free family days out we’ve had this year.
The adventure trail, which came to a close earlier this month, was based on David McKee’s popular story of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and consisted of around 50 large sculptures and a number of smaller ones placed at easy-to-reach locations across the North East.
I personally love the Elmer stories because I’ve grown up with them and they are brilliant for teaching little ones all about diversity in a fun and engaging way.
Before setting off, we downloaded the Elmer trail app, purchased a map for £1 from Newcastle Central Library and also an Elmer storybook … so little legs could read to the elephants we met.
The app was great because it allowed little fingers to unlock each of the elephants with ease and the squeals of delight from little legs as he realised there were also treats behind some of the Elmers was just lovely.
Some of the best treats included some pencils and a colour-in Elmer from Greggs, a bag of jelly beans from Leazes Financial Services in Eldon Gardens and a pin badge courtesy of the artist behind the Barker & Stonehouse Elmer. It was definitely the little treats that kept him engaged as we made our way around the trail.
What was really magic was the number of families we met who were also out Elmer-spotting for the day. So after ticking off 25 Elmers in a day, which were little legs’ top three?
Greggs’ HAPI Elmer
The first was Greggs’ HAPI Elmer in Northumberland Street, Newcastle. HAPI stands for Having A Positive Impact and that’s something we should all strive to do. The colourful elephant, designed and decorated by North East artist Steve Johnson, must have made little legs hungry, so we stopped off for a quick chocolate star from our favourite bakery.
Barker & Stonehouse Nice To Be Nice Elmer
Little C’s second favourite was Barker & Stonehouse Elmer, Nice To Be Nice, located outside of the store in Newcastle city centre. We both loved the ‘I Believe In You’ message displayed on this colourful Elmer designed and decorated by Yorkshire illustrator Sian Ellis. Compliments go such a long way to making us all feel good.
Newcastle Building Society’s Tynie Elmer
Little C’s final favourite Elmer was Tynie, sponsored by Newcastle Building Society and decorated by Liverpool artist Anne-Marie Byrne. He spent quite a while reading Elmer to Elmer! Tynie was one of the trail’s eco-friendly elephants and celebrated the spirit of the mighty River Tyne.
A really important cause
By taking part in the trail, little legs and I were also doing our bit to raise money and awareness of St Oswald’s Hospice, which provides care, love and support to those with life-shortening conditions across the region.
Yesterday we celebrated our time on the trail by waving goodbye to the herd at Elmer’s Farewell Weekend at Newcastle Racecourse. Little legs gave a kiss to all of the elephants in the room and he also got to meet the ones we hadn’t been able to visit.
It was the perfect end to a perfect trail and we were so lucky to have been able to take part in it for such a good cause.
Big Elmer Charity Auction
It’s not over yet though as the Big Elmer Charity Auction takes place on Tuesday, November 12th at Sage Gateshead and gives people the chance to buy an Elmer and raise funds for the hospice at the same time. Tickets are on sale at www.sagegateshead.com/elmer-auction
If you buy an Elmer at the event, we’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a chance to see all the Elmers we visited, check out our Instagram channel @ofsaffronandcyrus for more pictures and videos.