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Elmer the Elephant will support Heart of Kent Hospice

Discounts on ice cream and chance to win year-long tickets to Leeds Castle

Two Leeds Castle ‘Elmer the Elephant’ sculptures were unveiled in Maidstone at the weekend, as part of ‘Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade’ in support of Heart of Kent Hospice, based on the beloved books by David McKee.

For the next nine weeks, Elmer and his friends will be marching on to the streets of Maidstone in the town’s first public art trail. Ipswich-based community artist, speed painter and tutor Lois Cordelia has created Leeds Castle’s ‘Heart of the Garden’ elephant.

Lois says: “I shall never forget the time I spent walking around Leeds Castle grounds, watching the peacocks and black swans, seeing the golden daffodils dancing in the breeze. With my mind still full of the stunning sights and sounds, I launched straight into painting my design, using a big brush and vibrant colours. My design celebrates the exquisite beauty of Leeds Castle. I used palette knives to create richly textured, partly iridescent depictions of the castle from various angles, by day and by night.”

The ‘Heart of the Garden’ Elmer will be outside the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone (main picture), and it is joined by a ‘learning herd’ decorated by children from local schools which can be found within the library. The library in Maidstone will be offering free craft and learning packs, including a fantastic elephant quiz, and will be running competitions with the chance to win tickets to Leeds Castle. Online story times can also be found on Maidstone Libraries Facebook page.

“Leeds Castle is delighted to be sponsoring two Elmer the elephants and supporting Heart of Kent Hospice in this fantastic initiative, which will be a wonderful chance for our local community to come together and have some much needed family fun! The Leeds Castle Foundation has a long history of working with Heart of Kent Hospice to raise much needed income to help support the people of Kent in need of their services and so we are proud to be involved in Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade.”

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Leeds Castle CEO

‘We’ll get there together’

The second Elmer is sponsored by RA Venues, Leeds Castle’s catering partner and can be found at the castle’s main entrance. Entitled ‘We’ll get there together’ and designed by artist Jenna Wass, the design features the famous spiralling Yew maze.

Steve Chandler, MD of RA Venues, says: “We are delighted to be supporting this incredible charity and are proud of our close partnership with Leeds Castle.”

As part of this event, there are three fully accessible Elmer trails around Maidstone, each reflecting the town’s history, economic heart and areas of natural beauty. Copies of a beautifully hand-illustrated map can be picked up at key town centre locations across Maidstone and in the Leeds Castle shop at the main entrance.   

To find out the locations of each Elmer and the herds of small Elmers, download the Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade app from the App Store or Google Play for FREE. Each Elmer will have a unique app code. Once you tap the code into your mobile device, it will reveal some exciting rewards for you to download. Scan the Leeds Castle Elmer elephants and you could enjoy discounts on delicious locally made ice-cream and the chance to win tickets to Leeds Castle, valid for a year!

Update from the council

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is the proud Heritage Sponsor of two Elmer sculptures as part of Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade. The beautifully decorated colourful elephant form a trail of 51 in overall, with three walks totalling around six miles, all waiting for visitors to discover.

Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade officially launched on Tuesday June 22. It will be in place until Sunday August 22, bringing colour and joy to the county town.

The first of the council’s two elephants is called ‘Elmer’s Maidstone’ and can be found near the Town Hall, in Jubilee Square. The second ‘Mummyphant’ is located on the balcony area in Fremlin Walk, overlooking Maidstone Museum. ‘Elmer’s Maidstone’ depicts a bright illustrated map of the town and ‘Mummyphant’ pays tribute to the famous ‘Ta-Kush’ mummy in the Museum.

When visitors arrive at each sculpture, they will be able to claim a prize or reward by downloading the ‘Wild in Art’ app as each Elmer will have a unique app code. Once they tap the code in to their mobile device, it will reveal some rewards to be downloaded, fun trail statistics and family-friendly challenges.

Cllr Martin Round, chair of the Maidstone Borough Council Economic, Regeneration and Leisure Committee, is thrilled to see the elephant trail in the town, he says: “Wow, these elephants are amazing! If you ever needed a reason to come into the town centre this is it. Come along to this free outdoor walking event and bring your friends and family to see these wonderfully decorated works of art.

“I feel it is a real privilege that the Heart of Kent Hospice has chosen our town to host the elephants.  Like so many I spent much of the last few weeks of my father’s life sat with him and the hospice and staff are very dear to me. I’m sure the Elmer parade will help provide a huge boost in funds to this extremely worthy cause.”

At ‘Elmer’s Maidstone’ sculpture visitors will be able to win a family ticket to Lockmeadow and ‘Mummyphant’ will be offering the chance to win a free ticket to see Father Christmas at Maidstone Museum.

Maidstone Museum is also playing host to a herd of six small Elmers which have all been designed by local school children. These will be displayed in the reception area and art gallery until the end of the trail and are free to visit.          

All Elmers will be on show until August 22when all will be rounded up for a farewell weekend where they can all be seen at Lockmeadow. This will run from Friday September 3 to Sunday September 5. Each elephant sculpture will then be auctioned on Thursday 9 September to further support the charity.

There are maps and a collection tin at Tourist Information Centre based in Maidstone Museum this week.

To find out more about the Heart of Kent Hospice and Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade please visit the website:


David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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