Shoppers got a surprise on Sunday 17 Sept when 35 colourful, super-sized bear sculptures paraded through the centre of Leeds. Hundreds of volunteers, fundraisers, sponsors, and children from Leeds Children’s Hospital took part in the parade to raise awareness and funds for Leeds Hospitals Charity.
The parade started at 5pm from Lower Briggate, onto Albion Place, Lands Lane and the Headrow, finishing at Victoria Gardens in front of the Leeds Art Gallery.
Rosie Gill, 15, from The Peak District, who has Alagille syndrome – a genetic illness which affects her liver and heart – proudly walked with her mum Claire, dad Chris, and brother, Oliver, 12, with her allocated bear called Bloom.
During the course of the summer, the colourfully decorated bears had featured around the centre of Leeds as a free art trail. Each bear, positioned on a plinth, told the story of a poorly child who had benefited from treatment from the Leeds Children’s Hospital.
Rosie makes frequent trips to Leeds after undergoing a liver transplant in October last year.
Claire Gill, Rosie’s mum, said: “Rosie is very proud and attached to her bear. Every time we make a trip to Leeds, we go and visit it. We’re hoping Rosie’s bear, Bloom, raises lots of money for the Leeds Hospitals Charity to fund the Leeds Children’s Hospital, to help benefit other children like Rosie.”
Alagille syndrome is a genetic disorder in which you have fewer bile ducts than normal in your liver. It can not only affect the liver, it can also cause skin, heart, facial, kidney, and eye abnormalities.
Creative marketing agency, ThinkOTB sponsored Bloom the bear. Mark Davies, ThinkOTB Chairman, who is also a trustee of the Leeds Hospitals Charity took part in the parade alongside ThinkOTB Managing Director, Joanne Waddington.
Mark Davies said: “It was very emotional walking with Rosie and her family and humbling to hear their story first-hand of how Leeds Children’s Hospital has helped Rosie. The bears have created optimism and joy for many poorly children.”
The bear sculptures were inspired by the award-winning TV animation based on Michael Rosen’s best-selling children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, published by Walker Books.
Joanne Waddington, Managing Director of ThinkOTB, said: “Taking part in the parade and sponsoring a bear was an opportunity for us as a business to support our local community and the vital work of Leeds Hospitals Charity, which makes such a profound difference to the lives of so many poorly children, like Rosie, and their families.”
Farewell Weekend – Saturday & Sunday 23rd & 24th September
All the large Bear sculptures and Bear cubs will be joined together for one final time at Leeds City Museum. Tickets for this event can be purchased at Leeds Bear Hunt Farewell Weekend (leedshospitalscharity.org.uk)
Auction – Thursday 28th September
The live auction is on 28th September at the Leeds Museum staring at 6pm with drinks and canapes before the live auctions starts at 7pm.
Follow the Leeds Bear Hunt on social media @leedsbearhunt #leedsbearhunt
If you would like to bid for a bear to raise money for the Hospital, please register at leedsbearhunt.co.uk/auction
Read more about ThinkOTB teaming up with artist Caroline Dowsett for the Leeds Bear Hunt here.