Snowdog success across the North East

HELEN GILDERSLEEVE  hails the success of the Great North Snowdogs campaign that has charmed the region and raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for charity

You’d have to be a hermit not to have noticed at least one Snowdog sculpture across the region recently. A total of 61 Snowdogs, each with a unique design, were displayed on a public art trail for ten weeks across Tyne and Wear’s streets, parks and open spaces. Standing at 1.5m tall (4ft 9ins), the eye-catching sculptures included several local designs, including two in the colours of Newcastle United and Sunderland football teams.

snowdog2

Other designs ranged from a Captain Spock design and dogs displaying local landmarks and maps through to a pirate Snowdog at the coast and one with glass accessories incorporating Sunderland’s National Glass Centre.

The individually designed Snowdog sculptures, painted by both well-known and undiscovered artists were presented by creative producers Wild in Art, working in partnership with St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice in Gosforth. Their aim was to bring together businesses, artists, schools and community groups to create a public art trail based on the popular The Snowman and The Snowdog by Raymond Briggs.

snowdogs

The sculptures have created much joy across the region as children and adults alike have tracked the full map trail which led them from the coast to the city and right up to Northumberland.

Last week I attended the final farewell auction of the Snowdogs at Sage Gateshead where all the loveable creatures were auctioned off to raise vital funds for St Oswald’s Hospice. A whopping £252,200 was made by the end of the night and all Snowdogs were escorted off to their new fur-ever homes.

Snow dogs auction
Snow dogs auction

The highest price of the night was paid for Disco Dog, designed by mosaic artist Natalie Guy, which sold for a whopping £9,200!

Popular Durham based farm, Mini Moos Fun Park, went home with a grand total of four Snowdogs for families to come and visit at the venue. Other dogs found fur-ever homes at a variety of businesses, charities and causes across the region.

snowdog1

St Oswald’s Hospice sponsored its very own Snowdog. The aptly named Wild North East dog became particularly precious to the children and young adults cared for at the hospice who watched him being painted and even added some decoration of their own before he was placed at Jesmond Dene.

Renowned wildlife artist, Jina Gelder, based this 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. After meeting the young people who use the hospice, she was inspired to include butterflies to symbolise their short but beautiful lives.

Wild North Est snowdog
Wild North East snowdog

To bring him home forever the charity launched an appeal in a bid to raise a minimum of £4000 in order to buy Wild North East at the auction. The appeal was a roaring success and the dog was delivered back to its rightful home this week much to the glee of hospice staff and users.

I had a few words at the auction with Jane Hogan, the Great North Snowdogs project lead for St Oswald’s Hospice who was delighted with the success and amount raised. She said:

“The Snowdogs campaign has captured the hearts and minds of the public in a way in which we never anticipated. Tonight’s auction has raised a phenomenal amount of money which will be put to great use within our hospice. The campaign has presented us with opportunities to communicate with a wider audience and to fundraise in a unique and imaginative way. The event has opened up many doors for us and has allowed us to build connections with individuals and organisations from across the region, some of whom hadn’t heard of the hospice before.

“Tonight we’ve been amazed and humbled by the enormous generosity of our bidders who’ve collectively raised a huge sum of money for our Children’s Hospice.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing another mass public art trail back to the region in 2019 which builds upon the success of our first outing.”

Looks like we’ll all have to be armed with our maps and cameras again for 2019….

Dico dog
Disco dog

http://www.greatnorthsnowdogs.co.uk

Twitter: @great_snowdogs

http://www.stoswaldsuk.org

@stoswaldsuk

 

 

Green Party leader presents alternative plans for Durham

England’s North East blogger and Green party member, RICHARD CALLAGHAN looks forward to the visit of party leader Caroline Lucas to Durham to present proposals for the future development of the city.

Durham City. Photo: David Simpson
Durham City. Photo: David Simpson

OnThursday, December 8, Green Party Co-Leader Caroline Lucas will be in Durham City to introduce the Durham Future City Plan. The event, at Durham Miners Hall 5:00pm-6:30pm, is free of charge, and tickets can be booked here: (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/caroline-lucas-introduces-the-durham-future-city-plan-tickets-29218135229?aff=efbevent)

I was born in Durham. I like that. It’s a city which I enjoy living in. When my wife and I got married, when we started our family, it’s the place we decided to move. But Durham, like the North East, like the country as a whole, finds itself let down by its political class.

Just as a Tory hegemony at Westminster continues to serve the region poorly, so the supremacy of Labour in the North East does little to further our interests. As with anywhere that finds itself dominated by one political party, at times political discourse in the North East threatens to slip to the level of almost total irrelevance, Labour’s certainty of victory against all comers rendering their capacity for compromise charmlessly unnecessary in all but the rarest of cases.

Last year’s failure of Durham County Council’s County Durham Plan is emblematic of all that is failing about local government in the North East. Called “unrealistic and flawed” by a senior inspector in early 2015, it was swiftly withdrawn by the Council who have, since then, been scrambling to put together a new version which will pass muster.

It is in this context that the County Durham Green Party’s Durham Future City Plan represents an interesting addition to the conversation. As a gauntlet, thrown down. What could a regenerated, revitalised Durham City look like? Can it be somewhere which works for all of its citizens, which offers progressive answers to questions about the economy, housing, transport, the environment, food and social wellbeing? Are we content as a dormitory town for students, many of whom have no interest in or connection to the city other than as members of the university? How do we make Durham somewhere that those talented people want to stay after they’ve finished their years of study? How do we balance those demands against the needs of people for whom this city is their home? How are we going to make Durham more than it currently is?

They’re fascinating problems, important ones. 2016 has been a year which has seen the political establishment challenged, but all too often those challenges have been little more than primal screams of rage. This anger understandable but, like a runaway train, it has the capacity to take us to places we do not necessarily want to be. What is needed now is direction, intellectual engagement, an acceptance that things can’t carry on like this married to a vision for where we’d like them to go.

The idea of a Durham Future City Plan, not just as a rejection of the Council’s ideas but as an expression of a viable alternative, marks one attempt to ensure that the necessary challenging of the political class forms part of a positive contribution to the conversation. Even if you reject the conclusions, any attempt to encourage reasoned debate is valuable. In times like these, with all that is at stake, it is essential.

Richard Callaghan is a member of the County Durham Green Party.