One of the region’s best loved entertainers will be making his mark on a new public art trail which is coming to Newcastle in August. 

BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, comic, impressionist, singer and cartoonist, Alfie Joey is designing and decorating one of the 70 elephant sculptures which will line up in Elmer’s Great North Parade. 

The free sculpture trail, which starts in August, is the successor to 2016’s Great North Snowdogs and will feature individually decorated statues of the popular children’s picture book character, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

Families will be able to follow Elmer’s Great North Parade, spotting all of the elephants in their positions all over Tyne and Wear until November.

Alfie Joey is also a professional artist and cartoonist, whose depictions of life in the North East sell for high prices worldwide, and now he is drawing on his skills to help support St Oswald’s Hospice who are organising the trail. 

Alfie will be setting up his studio in the foyer of the BBC Radio HQ at Newcastle’s Barrack Road, so fans and visitors can watch as his design comes to life.

“I don’t want to give the game away too much about my design,” said Alfie, “but it’s going to be very local to the North East and it will feature lots of famous faces.

“The real challenge will be transferring the design from the page on to my Elmer statue. I have never done anything in 3D before – I’ve done lots of paintings and cartoons but nothing like this.

“It’s a very smooth, undulating sculpture and that is part of the fun.”

Written and illustrated by David McKee, the Elmer books feature a patchwork elephant whose unique colours mark him apart from the rest of the herd and Alfie added: “We have the Elmer books at home and my two children are over the moon I’m taking part in this.

“We all did the Great North Snowdogs trail and the kids used to love cuddling the sculptures, so when I heard there was to be a second trail I thought, ‘well, how will you follow that,’ but this is the perfect way.”

Elmer’s Great North Parade has once again been organised by regional charity St Oswald’s Hospice, which is calling on other artists, designers and creatives to join Alfie and design and decorate a sculpture for the trail.

Those whose designs are chosen will not only receive an artist fee of £800, but their work will also be seen and enjoyed by the estimated 700,000 visitors to Elmer’s Great North Parade.

The 10-week long parade, in partnership with Wild in Art and Elmer publisher Andersen Press, will culminate in an auction of the statues on 12 November.

And all money raised will go to St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice, which provides specialist care for North East babies, children and young people with incurable conditions and support for their families and loved ones.

Along with the 70 large sculptures the trail will feature more than 100 smaller Elmers, designed and decorated by North East schools, youth groups and organisations.

Artist submissions must be made via an online form at and the closing date for entries is 14 February.

Artworks will be presented to the sculpture sponsors in May and the artists whose designs are chosen will need to transfer their designs on to the full-sized Elmer sculpture between the end of May and the beginning of August.                       

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