Artists, designers and creatives are being urged to take part in a free public art trail and raise much needed funds for children with incurable conditions.

Elmer’s Great North Parade will take place in August, with individually decorated statues of the popular children’s picture book character, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, positioned throughout Tyne and Wear.

And the event’s organiser, Newcastle-based St Oswald’s Hospice is calling on anyone with an artistic streak to help decorate the 70 fibreglass statues, which will make up the trail.

Written and illustrated by David McKee, the Elmer books feature a patchwork elephant whose unique colours mark him apart from the rest of the herd – and the Hospice hopes artists will let their imaginations run riot in creating designs of their own.

Those whose designs are chosen will not only receive an artist fee of £800, but their work will be seen and enjoyed by the estimated 700,000 visitors to Elmer’s Great North Parade.

The 10-week long Parade, in partnership with Wild in Art and Elmer publisher Andersen Press, is the sequel to Great North Snowdogs, which was held in 2016 and raised £367k for the Hospice’s children and young adults’ service.

It will culminate in an auction of the statues on 12 November to raise money for the Hospice, which provides specialist care for North East adults, young people and children with incurable conditions and support for their families and loved ones.

Newcastle-based Artist Amanda Rabey, who designed a Snowdog for the earlier trail, said “it was a major factor in my sales increasing.

“My involvement as an artist gave potential customers greater confidence to buy and helped get my name heard and work see by vast numbers of people from the region and beyond.”

Along with the 70 large sculptures the trail will feature more than 100 smaller Elmers, designed and decorated by North East schools, youth groups and organisations.

“This is a unique opportunity for artists to see their work being enjoyed and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people,” said project curator Victoria Maddison.

“We welcome original designs from both emerging and professional artists across the region and beyond.

“The successful artists will be expected to transfer their design onto a large, three dimensional Elmer, which will sell at auction. We look forward to seeing a variety of creative designs over the coming weeks.”

Submissions must be made via an online form at and the closing date for entries is 14 February.

Artworks will be presented to the sculpture sponsors in May and the artists whose designs are chosen will need to transfer their designs on to the full-sized Elmer sculpture between the end of May and the beginning of August.