An auction of 40 elephant sculptures has raised more than £300,000 for St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth.
The sculptures are based on the book character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, each featuring an individual design by a different artist. This summer the elephants formed part of Elmer’s Big Parade, an art trail through the centre of Plymouth that commemorated 30 years since the book series was first published.
Led by a professional auctioneer, the event raised an impressive £323,750 for the hospice, the equivalent of providing hospice care at home for more than 350 families. The highest bid was for the Elmer designed by local artist Brian Pollard, which was bought by the Miller family for £36,000.
The elephant by artist Dave Smith was sold to Darren Burt, whose wife Tracy died suddenly in June this year, aged just 39. Darren attended with 7-year-old daughter Darcy, and the event was particularly poignant as their auction number was 5, which had happened to be Tracy’s lucky number.
Darren said: “When Tracy died suddenly, I didn’t just lose my wife but my best friend, too. Living without her is really hard and we miss her so much every day.
“Being at the auction with Darcy tonight has been very emotional, but I wasn’t going to leave until I had won the Elmer Tracy set her heart on from the moment she saw it in the summer. Winning the auction means so much, and our Elmer is going to take pride of place because my wife was such a special person.”
Steve Statham, Chief Executive of St Luke’s said: “It has been wonderful seeing so many people following Elmer’s Big Parade, enjoying a free family day out. Along the way, they’ve been learning more about the importance of high-calibre bespoke care for people at end of life and the difference St Luke’s makes.
“We never forget that it’s the support from our community that enables our vital service to continue to make a difference. On the auction night you were behind us and stepped up to the mark to make us a force for good when patients and families need us most.
“I am truly humbled by your support and thank you on behalf of our staff, volunteers, patients and their families.
“Two years ago we set out with an aim to ensure this project delivered a special legacy for St Luke’s beyond the trail and our Grand Charity Auction. Elmer’s Big Parade has delivered beyond what we could have ever dreamed of.”
Watch the moment Elmer gets snapped up for £36,000 below.
For more information visit St Luke’s Hospice