Ipswich loves elephants, writes Ipswich Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere. That much is clear since the Elmer trail descended on our town.
From the off, families were on the trail with apps and maps, taking photos of excited children next to Elmers.
One evening, I saw a huge group of runners congregating outside Sailmakers who were about to run the entire trail.
I’ve even met a group of blokes on a pub crawl round them. Not for everyone, but it will certainly have given a boost to Ipswich’s pubs!
The project supports St Elizabeth Hospice, a cause close to the heart of Suffolk people. Norman Lloyd has done a wonderful job again. It’s a massive task which has taken well over a year to co-ordinate. Norman has persuaded the entire Suffolk community to sponsor Elmers – businesses, schools, and councils – and thousands of us get to enjoy the results and support the Hospice at the same time.
I’ve been amazed by the imagination of the artists, and the way in which their work brightens up our streets – you just have to stop and look.
Of course everyone has their favourites. Mine has got to be “Woolmer-I-Am” in the Buttermarket Centre, a brilliant replica of the mammoth in Ipswich Museum.
Another joy of the Elmers is the puns in their names. My favourite is probably “The Room in the Elephant” in Arras Square.
The Elmer trail is for everyone. People on a limited budget can have hours of fun for very little cost – especially when coupled with our 3 hours free parking on Sundays at Crown Car Park.
It brings thousands of people into the town centre who will hopefully also spend money in our shops and cafes.
The Council given a lot of support: Elmer HQ is in the Town Hall; we have provided homes for a large number of Elmers around the town – not least at the Museum and Mansion; and we have sponsored two Elmers – Wool.i.am and an Elmer outside Christchurch Park celebrating our local artists.
Everybody wins. St Elizabeth Hospice raise much-needed funds, families have a great time and town centre businesses get extra trade. That’s why everyone loves Elmer!