A boost following the pandemic

Following the success of Pigs Gone Wild and Elmer’s Big Parade, independent Suffolk charity St Elizabeth Hospice has announced it will be hosting a third art trail in Ipswich next year.

Created in partnership with creative producers Wild in Art, the art project will see around 40 ornately decorated sculptures, featuring designs celebrating all things Suffolk scattered throughout Ipswich showcasing the wealth of artistic talent of the county and beyond.

The news comes after the hospice, like many charities and hospices across the country, has experienced a testing year due to the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

With subsequent government enforced lockdowns seeing the temporary closure of its 31 retail shops and postponing of all fundraising activities, the hospice team estimates the charity has lost around £1 million in funds due to the pandemic, but believes its latest art trail to be a cause for optimism.

“After a difficult year, due to Covid-19, we are delighted to announce the launch of our third art trail which will bring colour and positivity for Ipswich and the whole of Suffolk to look forward to,” Hannah Bloom, Director of Income Generation, at St Elizabeth Hospice.

“The public had a real affection for our previous art trails, Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk and Pigs Gone Wild, and we hope they will enjoy the event in 2022 just as much and help make it an even bigger success.

“While the chosen sculpture remains a secret we are confident when it is revealed, people will agree it is a great choice and one that will help raise awareness of our work and encourage visitors to Ipswich town centre once more.”

In 2019, St Elizabeth Hospice’s Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk saw a herd of 55 statues, based upon the popular children’s character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by author David McKee, form an art trail around Ipswich.

The trail, subsequent statue auction and accompanying fundraising activities generated more than £260,000 for the hospice and online surveys showed 390,000 people engaged with the trail, with 70% of these saying it was the main reason they had visited Ipswich.

While in 2016, the hospice’s Pigs Gone Wild art trail, featuring a statue dubbed Ed Sheer-Ham in homage to the Suffolk singer Ed Sheeran, raised over £200,000 for the charity and brought an extra £1m to Ipswich’s economy through increased visits and spending in the town, as 250,000 people completed the trail in Ipswich.

Looking at the success of the previous trails, which have raised both awareness and funds for the charity, the St Elizabeth Hospice team is confident Ipswich Wild in Art 2022 will provide a boost both to the hospice, patients and staff as well as the wider community.

Hannah added: “The last year has not been without its challenges, as many charities and organisations throughout the country will understand.

“Every year we rely a lot on the support we receive from the local community and their generosity in backing the hospice, whether that is through fundraising, donations or volunteering their time.

“With Covid-19 seeing a lot of this activity being temporarily suspended, it has placed pressures on our income but we are confident, with continued community support and the impact of Ipswich Wild in Art 2022, that the future remains bright and our art trail will be a time to celebrate as well as generate much needed funds for the hospice.”

Government funding for hospices is currently £350 million per year, but this represents a small portion of funds required to provide hospice care, with 70% of St Elizabeth Hospice’s income generated via retail shops, donations and fundraising activities.

To counteract the impact of the pandemic, the hospice fundraising team quickly adapted to the ‘new normal’ through the implementation of new technology, such as contactless payments to facilitate small fundraising events.

While popular fundraising events and challenges evolved to become virtual, in order to adhere to government safety guidelines. These formed a key part of St Elizabeth Hospice’s coronavirus fundraising campaign, #HereTogether, which raised more than £250,000 in six months for the hospice.

Hannah said: “Through #HereTogether we were so grateful for the support we received from the community and local organisations in helping us raise such a fantastic sum.

“It wasn’t an emergency appeal, #HereTogether was a campaign to ask people to be here for us today so we could be there for them in the future and that is exactly what the public did.

“We hope Ipswich Wild in Art 2022 will provide a chance to bring the community together once more and since announcing the trail will take place next year, we have received a great response from the community and local organisations offering their support.

“The trail is also an opportunity for the hospice to show gratitude to all its supporters, while also providing a much needed tonic of positivity for all, following the period of uncertainty we have lived through this past year.”

The Big Hoot Ipswich 2022