A GATESHEAD PARK was awash with colour over the weekend, to raise money for a great cause, with a very special guest.

More than a thousand people gathered in Saltwell Park for Elmer’s Patchwork Parade on Saturday (6 July), ahead of the launch of Elmer’s Great North Parade next month (21 August).

And the patchwork elephant himself waved off families as they took to the 2.5k sponsored route, in aid of St Oswald’s Hospice, with many in fancy dress and sporting colourful homemade banners and flags.

This was also the first chance for people to get an early look at some of the statues which will on display around the North East during this summer’s art trail, with four of the herd hidden around the route.

The sponsored parade kicked off a range of activities over the rest of the afternoon, including music and craft workshops, fairground rides, storytelling, lawn games and face painting, hosted by Metro Radio’s Steve and Karen.

Jane Hogan, project lead for Elmer’s Great North Parade at St Oswald’s was delighted with the turnout at the event.

“This was a fantastic way to get in the spirit for the launch of Elmer’s Great North Parade next month,” said Jane.

“It was wonderful to see so many people come down to the park to support the Hospice and we were really impressed with the effort everyone made with their colourful outfits.

“It was an excellent day for all ages to enjoy and we couldn’t be happier with how it went.”

The 11-week long free public art trail across Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead takes place between 21 August and 1 November and it set to be the biggest mass participation event in the region this year.

A Farewell Weekend from 9 – 10 November at Newcastle Racecourse will be a final opportunity to say goodbye to the herd before the sculptures will go under the hammer at a special auction at Sage Gateshead on 12 November, which will raise funds for the Hospice’s Children and Young People’s Service.

For more information, visit www.greatnorthelmer.co.uk.