How many elephants can you fit in a van? The answer is usually four – two in the back and two in the front - unless, that is, the elephant is Elmer.
The colourful patchwork character is currently touring the region ahead of Elmer’s Great North Parade – a 10 week long free public art trail delivered by St Oswald’s Hospice, which opens on 21 August.
And one of the North East’s leading van dealerships has stepped in, to ensure he travels in style.
Mercedes-Benz dealer, Bell Truck and Van, has donated a Vito van to transport Elmer the Elephant for the duration of the project – from now until the end of the year.
Wrapped in specially created Elmer branding it will take him to visit his fans at events and to meet art trail sponsors to thank them for their support.
This month alone (April), the Elmer sculpture has been out and about in his new Elmer-mobile taking part in the Celebration of Tourism in North East England event at Newcastle Cathedral and visiting art trail sculpture sponsors at The Customs House, South Shields.
He will also be meeting shoppers at the Bridges, Sunderland from 15 to 17 April and networking with businesses at Newcastle Eagles to encourage new sponsors to join the herd.
His month will then draw to a close, with a visit to Newcastle Racecourse and a trip to Northumberland Zoo.
“Elmer has a mammoth task ahead of him over the coming months and we are delighted to be able to help him tour the North East in style,” said Ben Sowersby, managing director, Bell Truck and Van.
“The commitment shown by St Oswald’s Hospice in improving palliative care and the lives of people with incurable conditions has really struck a chord with us and we are proud to be given the opportunity to support such a wonderful local charity.”
“We are incredibly grateful to Bell Truck and Van for providing this magnificent Elmer mobile,” said Jane Hogan, Head of Fundraising at St Oswald’s Hospice.
“St Oswald’s Hospice – and this event in particular - just couldn’t manage without the generosity and support of the region’s businesses and it’s hugely appreciated.”
Elmer’s Great North Parade will feature more than 50 large and 115 small individually decorated statues of best-selling author David McKee’s colourful character, positioned across Tyne and Wear.
It will draw to a close on 1 November and the sculptures will then be sold to the highest bidders at an exciting live auction at Sage, Gateshead, on 12 November.