08 December 2016

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The Great North Snowdogs campaign ended on a high on Tuesday night with more than £250,000 raised for St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice after 64 Snowdog sculptures, including 4 surprise bonus dogs, went under the hammer at a live nail biting auction.  

Our campaign saw more than 11,500 people download the Great North Snowdogs app, unlocking around 195,000 Snowdogs and with a minimum of 280,000 people interacting with the Hospice's social media accounts each week. A generous audience dug deep into their pockets to buy the 64 Snowdogs for a combined total of £259,200.   

The auction attracted a diverse audience from across the region including Snowdogs sponsors, artists, Hospice supporters, fans of the Snowdogs trail, members of the media and many others. 

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A number of sponsors attended Tuesday’s event in the hope that they’d be able to place a successful bid on their sponsored dog. NBS Brand Manager, Deborah Mullinder, told us that after having grown hugely attached to their Snowdog, 'Wor Geordie,' they’d love to win him back at auction and had reserved a place for his return:

“We’ve been debating which permanent home we can give to Wor Geordie if we’re successful tonight and have decided to place him on our rooftop terrace so that he remains accessible to the public who’ve grown as attached to him as we have.” 

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Similarly, Lindsey Graham from Performance Horizon informed us:

“We are putting in a bid to win back our sponsored Snowdog, 'Mojo,' tonight and we must be hopeful because we’ve already picked out a great spot for him to live which will be visible to the Metro commuters.”

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A number of our Snowdog artists attended and were keen to see their sculptures being auctioned off. Joanne Wishart, the artist behind 'Skipper' and 'Tails of the Sea', was staggered at the impact of the campaign and had a few preferences for the forever homes of her dogs:

“I would love for my Snowdogs to stay in the North East and preferably at a costal location given their nautical themes. But ultimately, I’m thrilled at the reaction the Snowdogs have had. I know of people who have travelled from all corners of the UK to partake in the trail, and on a personal level, it has been an exciting opportunity for me to have my work opened up to a new audience”.

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Sally Adams, the artist who created the 'Chilly Dog' design, dressed for the evening by wearing a matching outfit to that of her Snowdog. Having been involved in numerous public art projects, Sally couldn’t resist the opportunity to be involved in Great North Snowdogs:

“Having designed and painted a number of sculptures for other art trails in the UK, I just had to be part of the North East’s biggest ever art trail! My husband has been very patient with me and has driven me all the way from Norwich just to be at tonight’s auction”.

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We were also pleased to meet a number of bidders from various North East companies who were hoping to take home a Snowdog of their own after seeing how positively the campaign had been received in the region. Rachel Fenwick from the Marketing Team at Woodhill Hall said:

“We have a large driveway at Woodhill Hall and we’d love for one of the Snowdogs to be placed at the top of it. We’ve drawn up a shortlist of some of the most eye catching Snowdogs to choose between having encountered them on the trail.”

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Similarly, Amanda Grieveson from North East company Believe2achieve, said she’d thoroughly enjoyed viewing the trail as a spectator and having seen the success and the impact of the trail, wishes she’d been involved:

“I hope lots of money is raised tonight for such a brilliant project. My big regret is that I wish I’d got my company involved, so I hope there will be a second trail.”

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Gemma Dishman, Marketing and Communications Manager from Sunderland B.I.D, was keen to capitalise on the opportunities Snowdogs presented and wasn’t disappointed by the result:

“We’ve had an incredible response across Sunderland from being part of the Snowdogs campaign and we’ve worked really hard with other sponsors from the area to maximise the local impact. We’ve been involved with the campaign since the very beginning and to see the transformation from an idea on paper through to a fantastic art trail has been a huge privilege.  If we win back our sponsored dog in tonight’s auction, it will be a fitting ending to an amazing campaign.” 

Comedians Steffen Peddie and Jason Cook opened the event and suitably warmed the stage up. St Oswald’s Chief Executive James Ellam and Jon Mentell, the father of one of the Hospice’s children who visits the Hospice for short breaks, were invited on stage to welcome the audience with some poignant reminders about the importance of the evening and the difference the money will make.  

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James put into context what the auction meant for the Hospice and the families who use the services:

“All profits from the auction will directly support the work of St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice, in providing short breaks and specialist care to children with life limiting conditions, from across the North East. By bidding at our auction, you are helping our team to be there at a difficult time, for families who need us. Please dig deep, bid generously and help us ensure that the Great North Snowdogs legacy continues to touch the lives of our children and their families for generations to come.”

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Jon explained how he and his family first heard of the Hospice and praised the fantastic level of care and support the hospice offers to his son and to his whole family:

“You hear the word inclusive used a lot. But St Oswald’s truly is inclusive. By providing respite care, St Oswald’s makes us feel like part of a big family. On behalf of all of the supporters and guests of St Oswald’s, thank you for being here tonight and let’s raise lots of money for a fantastic organisation.”    

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Auctioneers from Anderson and Garland, Fred Wyrley-Birch and Julian Thomson, were welcomed to the stage and kicked off the auction. After the first Snowdog, Arthur painted by Jeff Rowland, set the bar high with an impressive £5,200, the auction was in full swing. 

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One of the biggest and most dramatic highlights of the evening was the auction of the Hospice’s Snowdog, Wild North East, which St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice hoped to win back for their children. Ahead of the auction, they’d launched a Just Giving campaign (Save Our Snowdog) in order to raise enough funds to place a successful bid. After the Hospice was outbidded during the night, generous audience members agreed to support the Hospice’s bid and helped them to win back their Snowdog, which had been sponsored by chART during the trail, much to the delight of the entire team who celebrated with a Mexican wave!   

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Other highlights of the auction included 'Snowberry' being awarded best in show as voted for by all those who’d downloaded our app, and the announcement that St Oswald’s would embark on a second public art trail in partnership with Wild in Art during the summer of 2019. 

Some of the biggest bids of the night included £8,600 for Newcastle United, Inspired, £9,000 for Guide Dog, and £9,200 for Disco Dog.

After each of the 64 Snowdogs had been auctioned off, the job of revealing the evening’s grand total fell to St Oswald’s Director of Income and Marketing, Anita Ball, who proudly confirmed that £259,200 had been raised.

Our project lead, Jane Hogan, couldn’t have been happier with how the evening went. She told us:

“The Snowdogs campaign has captured the hearts and minds of the public in a way in which we never anticipated. Tonight’s auction has raised a phenomenal amount of money which will be put to great use within our Hospice. The campaign has presented us with opportunities to communicate with a wider audience and to fundraise in a unique and imaginative way. The event has opened up many doors for us and has allowed us to build connections with individuals and organisations from across the region, some of whom hadn’t heard of the Hospice before. Tonight we’ve been amazed and humbled by the enormous generosity of our bidders who’ve collectively raised a huge sum of money for our Children’s Hospice. We’re thrilled to be bringing another mass public art trail back to the region in 2019 which builds upon the success of our first outing.”

Now that all of the Snowdogs have been auctioned off, transportation company and Snowdog partners Quicksilver, have told us that they aim to have all of the Snowdogs delivered to their ‘Forever Homes’ by Christmas.

We’ll be visiting some of the Snowdogs in their new ‘Forever Homes’ once they’ve had a chance to settle in with their owners. Please check on our news section regularly for pup-dates!

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A Wild in Art event delivered in partnership with St Oswald's Hospice Children’s Service. Proceeds from Great North Snowdogs will go towards supporting children with incurable conditions. 
‘The Snowman™ and The Snowdog’ © Snowdog Enterprises Ltd 2015. St Oswald’s Hospice is a registered charity, number: 503386.

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