Big Trunk Trail Trumpets into Town with Bake Off Star Nadiya

Living Magazines Nadiya and her elephant, Mandala Party - copyright Keech Hospice Care

The Keech Hospice Care Big Trunk Trail herd is here from this Saturday, 10 July.

A herd of more than seventy beautifully decorated elephants will be taking their places for the biggest public art event Bedfordshire has ever seen. The free, family-friendly outdoor installation sees the gorgeous creatures out and about across Luton’s parks and landmarks, including Wardown Park, the Town Hall and Stockwood Country Park and in multiple locations across the town centre.

The elephants will be on parade from 10 July to 8 October as Keech Hospice Care’s way of saying thank you in their 30th anniversary year to everyone who has supported them through the decades.

Sarah from Stevenage is the mum of a little girl who the charity cares for, and she says, ‘My daughter Kasi and I haven’t been going to Keech for very long but I can’t tell you how welcome everyone has made us feel already. We’ve helped the Children’s team decorate their baby elephant, Sherbet which will be on display in Wardown House (Wardown Park) and can’t wait to see the rest of the trail this summer. They are such a caring, fun team – it really is like seeing old friends.’

Each of the thirty-two large elephants has kindly been sponsored by a local business or organisation including event partners, London Luton Airport Ltd., The Mall Luton, University of Bedfordshire, Luton BID and AiSolve. The entire event has been made possible by tremendous support from Project Presenting Partner, Love Luton. Other big names with their own decorated elephants include Great British Bake Off champion, Nadiya Hussain and the charity established in the name of the local fundraising hero, The Captain Tom Foundation. Some of the artists also have strong local links, like Luton born, former Turner Prize nominee, Mark Titchner whose best known works include the Beacon at the Hat Factory.

Nadiya says, ‘Luton is my home town so it makes me so proud that Keech Hospice Care is putting on this amazing art trail for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes it’s tough to find things to do with children over the summer holidays that don’t cost the earth and I’m sure loads of parents will be delighted to take their kids, for free, to visit all the gorgeous elephants and lovely locations on The Big Trunk Trail. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Keech and see the incredible care and support they give to patients and families when they need it the most, and giving something back to the town that have supported them is a great way to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary.’

Forty-one baby elephants have been decorated by local schools and community groups as part of the Big Trunk Trail learning programme, thanks to generous support from Trail Partners, The University of Bedfordshire and London Luton Airport Ltd. The schools and groups have all been fundraising furiously and their calves are together in groups at six indoor locations including The Mall and the Central Library.

A special map has been created to guide people on their elephant safari around the trail. Copies are available (with a suggested £1 donation) from a number of places including The Keech Hospice Care Park Street shop, Luton Central Library and The Big Trunk Trail gift shop in The Mall. The map can also be followed in the Interactive Fun section of the special Keech Connect app which is packed with useful and fun elements. It shows where the elephants are, how to get to them and how long it will take. Visitors can keep track of how many of the colourful creatures they’ve seen and take advantage of some excellent money-off coupons for use in local shops. And,there are some wonderful Augmented Reality enhancements that the kids will love.

Keech Hospice Care CEO, Liz Searle says, ‘I am excited at the thought of these magnificent elephants standing among Luton’s iconic attractions and streets, bringing colour and fun to the town. Another collective name for elephants is a ‘memory’ and, as a hospice, we hope The Big Trunk Trail will bring people together to remember loved ones while creating fantastic new memories.’

Linsey Frostick from Love Luton says, ‘Love Luton is all about showing Luton at its best, and that’s precisely what The Big Trunk Trail will do. We hope people who come in search of the herd will also discover some wonderful places around the town that they might never have otherwise even known existed. Elephants never forget, and we hope people will make marvellous memories to treasure when visiting the herd.’

The elephant sculptures have been produced by Wild in Art, a leading producer of public art events. Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder at Wild in Art, says, ‘We’re delighted to have been able to partner with such a great charity as Keech Hospice Care. These elephants will give people the opportunity to take a leisurely stroll around Luton’s parks and landmarks enjoying these beautiful, cheerful art works while remembering what great service the charity has given to everyone for the past thirty years.’

As part of this unforgettable experience, there will also be the chance for people to own an elephant of their own when the trail comes to an end in October. The large elephant sculptures are being auctioned on 11 November, with all the proceeds helping Keech Hospice Care continue its vital work, caring for adults in Luton and south Bedfordshire and children from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes with life-limiting and terminal illnesses. For anyone wishing to help the charity during the Trail, donations can be made via the Keech Connect app or by texting trunk to 70470 to make an instant £3 donation (£3 donation plus standard rate message). For more information on donating or participating in the auction visit The Big Trunk Trail website or follow the herd on social media @BigTrunkTrail, #BigTrunkTrail.

Image: Nadiya and her elephant, Mandala Party © Keech Hospice Care