Elmer’s Great North Parade: Customs House sponsors hospice fundraising sculpture in its anniversary year

Customs House panto characters Dame Bella (Ray Spencer, back,'left) and Arbuthnot (David John Hopper, seated) with Paul Shriek (back, centre) and'Matt Fox (back, right) and Elmer.
Customs House panto characters Dame Bella (Ray Spencer, back,'left) and Arbuthnot (David John Hopper, seated) with Paul Shriek (back, centre) and'Matt Fox (back, right) and Elmer.

The Customs House is welcoming a new face as it continues its 25 th anniversary celebrations.

Elmer will be moving into the arts and entertainment venue later this year as part of Elmer’s Great North Parade, in aid of St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice in Gosforth.

The Customs House has followed the herd by sponsoring one of the sculptures, which are being placed in locations throughout Tyne and Wear.

It will be decorated with a patchwork of eye-catching designs from previous pantos at The Customs House, created by the award-winning Fox and Shriek.

As well as marking The Customs House’s silver anniversary, it coincides with the 10 th anniversary of The Customs House’s partnership with Paul Shriek.

Paul won Best Costume Design at the Great British Panto Awards in 2018 for The Lambton Worm and is nominated again this year, alongside Matt Fox, for Best Staging and Set for

Beauty and the Beast.

He said: "Creating a patchwork of colourful images into a second skin costume, our elephant, Trudi, named after my mam, represents one half good and one half evil, to portray the essence of panto.

“She will be dressed to impress for Elmer' s Great North Parade."

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, who co-writes, directs and stars in the annual panto as Dame Bella, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting St Oswald’s

Children’s Hospice in our 25th anniversary year.

“The Customs House is a charity and we know the importance of local support. We can’t wait to welcome Trudi and all her admirers later this year.”

Jane Hogan, Elmer’s Great North Parade Project Lead, from St Oswald’s Hospice, said: “St Oswald’s Hospice is delighted to welcome The Customs House to the herd.

“In doing so, they join an impressive range of businesses that have made the choice to get involved in what promises to be the region’s biggest and most engaging public mass-

participation event of 2019.

“We are really excited to hear that the award-winning duo of Fox and Shriek will be working on the Elmer design and can’t wait to see their creatives brought to life!”

Elmer’s Great North Parade follows the success of 2016’s Great North Snowdogs trail.

More than 50 large and 115 small individually designed Elmer the Patchwork Elephant sculptures - based on the much-loved character from David McKee’s book - will go on display

in streets, parks and public spaces from August 21 to November 1.

For anyone who can’t wait until the summer to see Elmer, The Customs House is also welcoming him in puppet form when Elmer The Patchwork Elephant Show comes to the stage on Easter Monday, April 22, in celebration of the book’s 30th anniversary.

There are two performances, at 12.30pm and 3pm, with tickets priced from £10 available from the box office.