- This day out was sponsored by Tyne and Wear Metro
Last year in school, James was lucky enough to get a spot in the after school extracurricular activity club that designed and painted the school’s contribution to the Great North Elmer Parade! “Sunshine, showers and rainbows” was painted by James and school colleagues and is currently on display in North Shields Library. It was with great pride we visited the little herd in the library, and of course, we had to download the app (99p) to log it that we’d seen it!
When Tyne and Wear Metro got in touch to see if we fancied a day out on the Metro to find some more Elmers, we quickly agreed! Noah squealed and jumped up and down at the idea of riding on the metro!
Tyne and Wear Metro is the headline partner of Elmer’s Great North Parade, which is brought to the region by St Oswald’s Hospice charity. The hospice cares for people with incurable conditions. The parade has brought 50 sculptures of Elmer the patchwork Elephant to the region. Each one has been individually designed and sponsored. There are also 114 little Elmer’s designed by local school children. The parade is on from 21 August until 1 November. Visit the Nexus website for more information, and some fun downloads like “make your own Elmer ears”, activity books, and Elmer Metro maps.
I did a quick poll in my Instagram Stories asking if we should visit Sunderland or Gateshead on our day out. Gateshead won overwhelmingly and so we walked down to the Metro station to catch a train.
You can download this handy Metro map which shows where all of the Elmers are and their distance to the closest Metro station.
The easiest way to pay for travel on the Metro is to use a Pop Pay As You Go card. Pop PAYG is cheaper than adult Single and Day tickets. In fact, it’s 40p cheaper than cash single tickets and 50p cheaper than cash Day tickets.
You can travel as many times as you like in a day, and you’ll never pay more than the daily cap (£2.60 for one zone, £3.70 for two zones or £4.70 for all zones). I discovered that you can check your balance and top up your card at the station, which is super handy if you don’t often use the Metro, like me, and forget how much is on your Pop card.
We caught the train to Monument and then changed line to catch the next train to Gateshead. From there we could have just walked down the hill to the Sage, but what’s an adventure without two types of transport?! When I told Noah that we were going on an adventure on the Metro he squealed and jumped up and down! You can’t predict those kind of reactions but it would be ace to bottle them!
We hopped on the Q3 bus from Gateshead Interchange – you can use your Pop Card on the Go North East buses. I was trying to save the boys’ little legs early on in our adventure so that we’d have a nicer day without whining (it worked)!
Inside the Sage there is a little herd of Elmers and a big Elmer.
It’s a short walk to the Hilton NewcastleGateshead from the Sage, and the Elmer there is in pride of place in the foyer. I was lucky enough to meet the artist of the Elmer in the Hilton before he died. Jeff Rowland was such a lovely man and did a lot to raise money for St Oswald’s Hospice. He and Rob were born in the same place and knew each other from school, growing up in the same area. The last time we bumped into him in Tynemouth he was telling us about his famous rain paintings and the elephant he painted. This Elmer was the second elephant model he’d decorated and is named after his niece, Amy.
Down the hill and over the bridge from the Hilton, into Newcastle, there is another Elmer on the quayside. Blossom Elmer is right next to the Swing Bridge.
We found the very sparkly Elmer “Disco Wilbur” at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle.
Near to Antler on the old Swan House Roundabout, there is “the People’s Elmer” which is covered in selfies of people with the Great North Snow Dog.
We decided to head up into town for some tea and found “Memories” by Darren Mundy, another Whitley Bay artist, up near Grey’s Monument. This Elmer is striped, but in areas unpainted, to encourage you to think about dementia and how it affects memories. Each stripe represents a memory.
“Surf Dude” is just next to the Monument metro entrance in Eldon Square.
The trail is a great way to get active and improve your wellbeing. To stay healthy, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week and children should be active for at least an hour a day. We loved taking public transport to explore the trail. Pop PAYG is an easy way to pay for transport across Tyne and Wear and is an ideal way to travel around the region exploring Elmer’s Great North Parade. Metro stations are close to most Elmers and others are accessible via local buses.
How many Elmers have you found so far?