18 November 2016

As the Great North Snowdogs draws to a close, some of the thousands who have visited the 61 sculptures across the region have told of the effect the trail has had on their hearts and their health.

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The deaths of his brother and father, disability and redundancy, had turned 44-year-old David Birdsey, from Cullercoats, into a virtual recluse – yet the trail proved just the incentive he needed to leave the house. David told us:

“I’ve loved the Raymond Briggs stories since I was young and when I first heard about Great North Snowdogs I was determined to see just one of the sculptures if I could. When the trail opened I took a taxi on my own – which was a very hard, very big deal for me – to the Blue Reef Aquarium at Tynemouth to see Dogfish and when I got there I just cried, I was so overwhelmed. I sat for a while and watched people come and go. I even chatted to some people and for the first time in a very long time I felt part of something.”

Since then David who suffers from spinal degeneration, told us he has seen 60 of the sculptures.

“I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the region, it’s given me a reason to get up and about every day. I've really pushed myself to my absolute limits doing this. I'm trying to overcome a lot of health problems and it's been a real struggle at times, but I've loved every minute of it.”

His story was echoed by wheelchair user Emma Jones from Gateshead, who had slipped into depression and anxiety after being made redundant in June.

“I have always loved Raymond Briggs’ stories, there is an innocence and a positivity in them and just seeing children, their parents and grandparents enjoying the Snowdogs has given me so much pleasure and really lessened my feelings of isolation.”

Great North Snowdogs, held to raise funds for and awareness of the Children’s Service at St Oswald’s Hospice, Gosforth, will end on 20 November but fans will get one last chance to see all 61 Snowdogs at a Farewell Event, at Gateshead Stadium, from 2 and 4 December.

The dogs will then be auctioned on Tuesday 6 December to raise funds for the hospice.

Tickets for the Farewell Event cost £3 each – subject to VAT and booking fees – and can be booked at


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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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