Children who attend a North East hospice have launched a public appeal to save a Snowdog that holds a special place in their hearts.
Wild North East is among 61 sculptures – inspired by the animated film The Snowman and The Snowdog – which make up the Great North Snowdogs trail, across North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and Newcastle.
And he is particularly precious to the children cared for at Newcastle’s St Oswald’s Hospice Children’s Service, as they watched him being painted and even added some decoration of their own.
In just a few weeks’ time, the Snowdogs will be auctioned to raise much needed funds for the Children’s Service.
And the children – who all have severe life limiting conditions – hope that, with the public’s help, they can bring their Snowdog, currently on display at Pets Corner, Jesmond Dene, home.
They have launched a crowd funding appeal in a bid to raise a minimum of £4000 in order to buy Wild North East at the auction, at Sage Gateshead, on 6 December – and they are calling on the region to help.
“It matters very much to them,” said Sarah Cross, mum to five-year- old Emma, from North Tyneside, who has a rare condition resulting in multiple seizures daily and needs 24-hour care.
“But also to us, their parents. My daughter has a life shortening condition and if the hospice was to keep their Snowdog I would always be able to look at it and it would bring back such happy memories.”
Emma’s friend, five-year- old Gareth Mentell, from North Shields, has Down’s Syndrome and is blind, so has never seen a Snowdog, but his father, Jon, said: “The Snowdogs have done something quite remarkable – they have brought people from around the region and beyond together, in support of the Hospice and our children.
“And if the children could keep their Snowdog it would be a wonderful reminder of the generosity and care that exists here in the North East.”
Renowned wildlife artist Jina Gelder based her design on wildlife native to the North East, adding hedgehogs to represent the hedgehog house at the Hospice, flowers from its gardens and signposts showing the breadth of the region it covers.
And, after meeting the young people who use St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice, she was inspired to include butterflies, to signify short, but beautiful lives.
Carole Dixon, head of children's and young adults’ services at St Oswald’s Hospice, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the public’s support of the Great North Snowdogs trail – it has really captured hearts, with every visitor having their own personal favourite Snowdog.
“For the children, Wild North East is very special – they see him as theirs because they watched Jina paint him and those who could hold a paintbrush even added their own little touches.
“To them – and to us – he is more than a sculpture. He is part of our Hospice family and it really would be lovely to bring him home.”
To make a donation to the children’s Save our Snowdog appeal visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/stoswalds/saveoursnowdog.
If the hospice successfully bids for Wild North East, any surplus raised will be fed back in to the children’s service.
To find out more visit www.greatnorthsnowdogs.co.uk.