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stampede of elephants elephant statue

Have you herd? A stampede of elephants is coming to West Dorset in support of Weldmar Hospicecare

15th March 2024

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Fundraising News

A herd of more than fifty brightly decorated elephants will be arriving in Bridport, West Bay, and Lyme Regis in spring 2025. The aim of this stampede of elephants is to raise funds and awareness for Weldmar Hospicecare.

Stampede By The Sea will transform the area into a vibrant, fun, and free art trail, engaging with local families, schools, the business community, and artists. The event was officially launched at the Electric Palace in Bridport, where the first elephant designs was also unveiled.

The stampede of elephants will be located around the area, and visitors to the trail will be able to follow the app to visit each of the sculptures. The trail is expected to bring a number of extra visitors to the area ahead of the summer season, bringing a welcome boost to the local economy.

Funds will be raised for Weldmar Hospicecare through sponsorship of each sculpture and other elements of the art trail, allowing local businesses to play their part in the project and involve employees and customers. A further boost to the charity’s coffers will come at the end of the trail when each of the sculptures will be sold at auction.

Local schools and youth organisations will be able to engage with Stampede by the Sea’s learning programme. Each participating school will receive a baby elephant sculpture to design as they wish, and it will be theirs to keep following the trail. Elephant themed learning resources will also be shared related to citizenship and conservation, as well as the work of Weldmar Hospicecare, which can often be ‘the elephant in the room’. Teachers will be supported in starting conversations about grief and dying, and how children can be encouraged to share their feelings and emotions.

The trail will also encourage health and wellbeing for the local community by getting people outdoors and discovering each of the incredible elephants, each of which will be hand painted by talented artists who can submit their designs ahead of the event.

A ‘hero’ elephant has already been revealed, entitled Waves of Emotion, and was created by Dorset artist Anissa Lee, who worked with attendees of Weldmar’s Wellbeing Support Sessions to come up with a design that reflected both the local area and the care provided by the charity.

A baby elephant has also been designed to celebrate the launch of Stampede by the Sea. Acclaimed Bridport based artist Philip Sutton RA, 95, created and painted a special design and named the elephant ‘Ponty’, after French philosopher Maurice Jean Jacques Merleau-Ponty.

As well as raising funds, the stampede of elephants will increase awareness of the work of Weldmar in the west of Dorset, highlighting services such as visits for patients at home from Weldmar Community Nurses to provide advice and support, care from the charity’s hospice at home service during a patient’s final weeks and days, therapies to enhance mental and physical wellbeing, bereavement support, and more.

Matt Smith is Chief Operating Officer at Weldmar Hospicecare, and says, “This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a number of years, and now seems the right time as Weldmar marks its 30th anniversary. Apart from the financial benefits to us from the sponsorships and the auction which will go straight back into delivering our care, this will also help break down those barriers and the stigma around end of life and dying, and conversations around bereavement which can be the elephant in the room. Getting people to understand the care we provide in Dorset is really important.”

Charlie Langhorne is Managing Director and co-founder of Wild in Art, and says, “We create what I call big bonkers brilliant art trails all over the world. They deliver smiles, they deliver economic impact, they deliver health and wellbeing benefits, but they all raise a huge amount of money for our charitable partners such as Weldmar. It’s a really simple concept, when people walk round the corner they bump into a wonderful elephant sculpture, they enjoy the artwork and it makes them smile. Off the back of those smiles, amazing things can happen.”

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