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Elmer auction of elephant sculptures for Heart of Kent Hospice at Mercure Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone


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This was the emotional moment it was revealed an auction of the popular Elmer the elephant art trail sculptures raised hundreds of thousands for a hospice.

Last night saw 51 of the statues sold to the highest bidders, with auctioneer Clive Emson at the helm, at the Mercure Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone.

Watch Heart of Kent Hospice find out how much the Elmer sculptures raised

The night raised £312,750. The hospice had hoped to secure in the region of £250,000.

Each piece had been designed by artists and formed a public art trail which ran in Maidstone from June to August and called Elmer's Big Heart of Kent Parade.

While most of the artworks commanded between £5,000-£7,000 each, with all money going to the Heart of Kent Hospice in Aylesford, there were some stand-out lots.

Elly-do, Elly-don't, Elly-dance, created by renowned Maidstone artist Ralph Steadman sold for £15,500, while Stawberry Deuce, an Elmer painted to look like a strawberry, by Megan Evans, sold for £13,500.

A touching moment came with lot 37, an elephant created by Karen Hiscock-King called Ele-vate, Encourage and Embrace.

The Elmers were available for inspection
The Elmers were available for inspection
The hospice team find out more than £300,000 was raised
The hospice team find out more than £300,000 was raised

It was revealed the team behind the parade hoped to instal the piece in the hospice, so everyone can enjoy it.

Asking if audience members would be willing to stand up from their seats to pledge £1,000, or £500 to bring the elephant back to the hospice generated £12,500.

As well as bids in the room, sums were pledged through telephone bidders and by proxy.

Last weekend, the public got their final chance to see 82 Elmers together. After leaving the trail and having a small re-paint, they were put on display at the Market Hall at Lockmeadow in Maidstone.

The collection included the 51 full size sculptures and a Learning Herd of smaller sculptures created by schools who pledged to raise £750.

The team on the right took bids by phone on the night
The team on the right took bids by phone on the night
Clive Emson, auctioneer
Clive Emson, auctioneer

The Learning Herds will now return to the classrooms at schools who designed them.

While hospice care is free to those who need it, it costs £5million a year to run the services provided with only small grants coming from the NHS.

It means the bulk of running costs have to come from donations, fundraisers and legacies.

Rachel Street, Heart of Kent Hospice's interim chief executive, said: "Everyone's generosity will ensure we can continue providing outstanding care to even more terminally ill people and their families in Maidstone and surrounding areas."

KM Media Group, media partners to the parade, sponsored two sculptures - Lucy by Emma Graham and Zoo Park Shenanigans by The Brown Studio which went for £6,500 and £4,500.

The Elmers were together for the final time
The Elmers were together for the final time
Never Forget and Mummyphant elephants
Never Forget and Mummyphant elephants
Ann-Marie Kelly speaks to the audience
Ann-Marie Kelly speaks to the audience
The audience on Thursday night
The audience on Thursday night

There was also a surprise last lot, a blank Elmer which can be painted in any design, which generated £6,000.

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