Amazing bears. Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

By Ann Evans

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The Big Sleuth, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity art trail featuring 100 bear sculptures has ended after 10 amazing weeks. Ann Evans went along to their Final Farewell before they are auctioned off.

There were bears in abundance in Birmingham over the weekend, as people flocked to say a fond farewell to 100 Big Sleuth bear sculptures, which for the past 10 weeks have been dotted around the city’s parks and public spaces for families to track down.

Bears raising fund for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

The Big Sleuth is presented by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and creative producers Wild in Art. The Big Sleuth follows on from last year’s successful Big Hoot trail, where instead of 100 bears, there were 80 owl sculptures. The Big Hoot attracted more than 800,000 visitors and in total raised over £625,000 for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. Everyone is hoping that The Big Sleuth will be even more successful.

The Big Sleuth began on 10th July and ended on 17th September, when all the bears were brought into the Eastside City Park over the weekend 6th-8th October for a final farewell, giving families the chance of seeing all the bears in one place. And what a fantastic sight it was.

Every penny counts! Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

Talented artists and celebrities had created designs of all kinds in all arrays of colours and textures. Each sculpture tells a different story – perhaps raising awareness of the children’s hospital, the plight of the sun bear, celebrating a community, the city and its heritage or a famous person or character. There was everything from Mr Spock bear to The Bees Knees bear, and from Taj Mahal by Sun and Moon bear to an Elvis lookalike bear called I Just Wanna Be Your Teddy Bear.

Harriet Hopkins is one of the fund raising team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. She explained that the call went out earlier in the year for designs for bears, and for people and businesses to sponsor a bear. She said: “We had hundreds of bear designs sent in. Our sponsors were then invited to view the designs and choose the one they wanted to sponsor. Since The Big Sleuth began in July it’s been amazing. There were around 12,000 app downloads and over 500,000 bear visits around the 70 mile route. Additionally. 50,000 children were involved in The Big Sleuth learning programme.

Familes enjoy seeing all 100 bears. Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

“Last year The Big Hoot raised over £500,000 and this money has an amazing impact on the charity and on the patient experience, giving added extras, little things such as presents at Christmas and visits by Giggle Doctors – after all laughter is the best medicine! And of course innovative new equipment.”

The bears’ universal appeal to people of all ages was one of the reasons the organisers chose the bear as the theme for this year’s project. And as the collective name for a group of bears is a sleuth, plus a sleuth is also a detective, The Big Sleuth was born!

Harriet Hopkins of the fundraising team, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

On Thursday 12th October all the bears will be sold off to the highest bidder at The Big Sleuth Auction. This takes place at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum. It will be the single biggest fundraiser that Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity has ever hosted after The Big Hoot. Last year some of the sculptures raised staggering amounts of money, One fetching £18,000. The charity is hoping for the same support this year.


I Just Wanne Be Your Teddy Bear. Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

Louise McCarthie, Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said, “We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the response our bears have had over the past few months and how much joy they’ve brought to tourists, residents, families and children.


“We would like to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of this bear-illiant project, including our wonderful artists and sponsors! We’re hoping kind hearted sleuthers, including business and individuals, will buy the bear-utiful bears back so we can keep them in our region as a lasting memory, as well as continuing to make children smile by raising much needed funds for the 90,000 children our hospital cares for each year.”

Mr Spock, Shakespeare and other amazing bear sculptures. Photo_ Tysall’s Photography

Bears Under The Hammer

The Big Sleuth Auction takes place on Thursday 12th October at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum. A limited number of tickets are available to watch the magic happen, from: For absentee online and telephone bid requests, register directly with Fieldings Auctioneers by emailing: or call 01384 444 140.

For more information on Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity please visit:

The Big Sleuth Farewell Weekend. Photo Tysall’s Photography