Bear a necessity for the West Brom

Giant bear sculptures are coming to Sandwell as The Big Sleuth gets ready to roar.

The region’s largest building society has guaranteed itself a paw-some summer by securing its place in public art initiative The Big Sleuth.

The West Brom is sponsoring one of around 100 individually designed bear sculptures, which will form a trail in streets, parks and open spaces throughout the West Midlands.

Picnic Time for Teddy Bears, designed by Bromsgrove artist Cathy Simpson, will sit proudly in the Society’s hometown of West Bromwich as part of a local extension to the trail taking place within Sandwell.

The bulk of the giant fibreglass bears will be located in and around Birmingham city centre in an event designed to raise funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and create a high profile visitor attraction between July and September.

Nick Trueman, Public Relations Manager at the West Brom, said: “We are longstanding supporters of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and getting involved with The Big Sleuth is a great way to strengthen that partnership, while also helping to promote the arts in our local community.

“The Society sponsored a sculpture when the hospital ran a similar initiative in 2015 themed around owls – The Big Hoot – and we have high hopes that this year’s event will be even better.  There are more sculptures on the trail and some incredibly creative designs from the various artists taking part.

“We may be biased, but we think our bear is particularly special and will be a welcome addition to the many attractions already on offer in West Bromwich town centre.  We can’t wait to unveil the finished sculpture next month.”

Picnic Time bear will be installed outside Central Sixth close to the shops and restaurants in New Square.  Other local bears are heading for West Bromwich High Street and Sandwell Valley.  The Big Sleuth trail runs from 10 July until 17 September.

Birmingham’s Children Hospital Charity has linked up with creative experts Wild in Art for the family friendly-trail.

More than £500,000 was raised from The Big Hoot auction at the end of 2015, and organisers are hoping to exceed that figure this year.

Elinor Eustace, Deputy Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “The Big Sleuth promises to be a fantastic attraction for families this year and it’s thanks to sponsors like the West Brom that we are able to stage such a major community event.

“We are delighted to have the West Brom back on board after they also supported The Big Hoot and, having had a glimpse of their Picnic Time for Teddy Bears design, I’m sure it will be hugely popular.”

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