Back in January 2013 I picked up the local free Newspaper and read an article regarding The Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal. 60 Gromit Unleashed Sponsors were being sought for the forthcoming Exhibition of Gromit statues all around Bristol.
In 2011 I had thoroughly enjoyed finding 36 out of the 60 Gorillas in Bristol City Centre, so I rang the Gromit Unleashed team, paid over my sponsorship in aid of a fantastic cause The Bristol Children’s Hospital and A C Services (Southern) were on board.
On Thursday 7 March, my colleague Caron and I went to the first event which was to view all the artists preliminary designs and we chose Ros Franklin’s ‘Petal’ design. A few weeks later we were offered a position on Whiteladies Road, I wanted our Gromit to be placed where there were many Restaurants, Pubs, Cafes etc as A C Services installs and maintains Rational Combi Ovens and Whiteladies Road was perfect with over 50 establishments on the main road plus many many more on the adjoining roads.
In May – Tom (my official photographer) and I walked the full length of Whiteladies Road introducing ourselves to many eateries and photographing Chef and Bert – our Rational mascots. Then on 1st June the countdown began with Chef and Bert searching for ‘Dog Rose’ Gromit in their daily AC Services facebook blog.
Caron and I (with Chef and Bert) were invited to the Gromit Unleashed launch party at the M Shed at the end of June and we were delighted to meet up with Ros Franklin for the first time and lucky enough to see some of the Gromits too – Gromberry, Isambark King Dog Brunel and Gromit Lightyear to name but a few.
That weekend all the Gromits were sited, in and around Bristol, in readiness for the official Trail start on Monday 1 July, with a few further afield in Cheddar, Westonbirt, Hawkesbury Upton and London Paddington Station. Over the next few weeks we spent much of our spare time visiting the Gromits and I managed to visit all of them except one by mid August.
On Saturday 7 September, I visited no. 80 ‘Gromit’ at Paddington Station and was fortunate to be upgraded to travel First Class by First Great Western Trains. Gromit had his photo taken, I ticked him off on the ‘Detect’O’Gromit App and then spent the rest of the day visiting the Queen’s Coronation Exhibition at Buckingham Palace and HMS Belfast and had a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting day.
I was thrilled when, as a Gromit Unleashed sponsor, I was invited to a private viewing of the Greatest Dog Show on Earth, where all the Gromits were together for one last time and I got to see a new Gromit, number 81, aptly named ‘Gromit Voyage’ the following week by a competition winner and I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Nick Park – Wallace and Gromit’s Creator from Aardman Studios and Gavin Strange artist of Stat’s the Way to do it, Lad!
Again as a Gromit Unleashed sponsor I was invited to attend the auction on Thursday 3 October and met up again with Ros Franklin and her husband Roy. Tim Wonnacott carried out a superb job as auctioneer and the evening was streamed live on the internet and was a rip roaring success .
As I had predicted the majority of Gromits were sold for over £18,000 and Dog Rose raised £20,000. To see what each Gromit went for click here. Even the 11 smaller Gromits, who were designed by competition winners and painted by artist Vivi Cuevas, sold for between £12,000 and £21,000.
The final astonishing total on the evening was £2,357,000 for just the sale of the Gromits – which is an absolutely phenomenal amount of money and Bristol Children’s Hospital will benefit greatly from all the extra funds.