Shaun the Sheep hits the Art beat with electric Mercedes-Benz van

Shaun the Sheep hits the Art beat with electric Mercedes-Benz van

A Tyneside hospice charity is gearing up for one of its biggest fundraising drives in years, with the help of the much-loved film and television series character Shaun the Sheep and a fully electric zero-emission van.

St Oswald’s Hospice is using the vehicle to help build awareness and make preparations for their Shaun the Sheep on the Tyne Art Trail 2023, which will see no fewer than 50 individually decorated Shauns placed highly visible locations around Newcastle throughout the summer.

Each sheep statue is designed and painted by artists from across the country, and Art Trail participants can follow a map or downloadable app to spot them all. The aim is to increase awareness of the Hospice’s vital work but also to raise much-needed funds to help keep the facility running.

Events Manager Libby Fryer said: “We ran an Art Trail in 2019, which was a huge success, but because of the ongoing effects of the Covid pandemic this year is the first time we’ve been able to repeat it. Running the Trail takes a huge amount of work in planning and arranging but the effort is well worth it for the reaction we get from our supporters and the wider community. Our target is to raise £240,000 across the whole period of the Trail, and that money plays a very significant role in helping the Hospice to stay open.”

The Art Trail officially opens on 19 July. Before then, though, the event organisers and their 50 statues of Shaun the Sheep, each around a metre high, will already have been very busy.

“We want to make sure the Trail is publicised as widely as possible, so we’ve already taken Shauns to high-profile events like the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race and venues including Newcastle Cathedral,” Libby continued. 

“But there’s another side to the activity. We encourage local businesses to sponsor a Shaun, so will spend time visiting their premises in the run-up to the opening. Then after the Trail closes we auction off most of the decorated Shauns – businesses are often keen to buy back the statue they sponsored but we also expect a lot of interest from art collectors, fans of the character and people who just want to support the event and the Hospice.

“All of this activity involves a lot of driving, and the statues need a big vehicle to move them. That’s why we’re so grateful that local Mercedes-Benz Dealer Bell Truck and Van stepped in with the loan of an all-electric eSprinter. They provided the vehicle to us for the whole year so we’ve been able to use it for all of the Art Trail’s transport requirements – this means our other vans, which work hard on a daily basis supporting our network of charity shops – can carry on working as normal.”

Bell Truck and Van Managing Director Ben Sowersby added, “We are delighted to be providing the official transport for Shaun the Sheep. St. Oswald’s makes a meaningful difference in the local community providing vital services to care for those with life limiting conditions and their families. We are proud to offer our support and very much look forward to exploring the Art Trail this summer.

“The fact that the van is covered in a highly visible vinyl wrap can only help increase awareness of the Art Trail and the Hospice, while the battery powered driveline also means that it produces no exhaust emissions at all while driving around the city and surrounding areas.” 

St Oswald’s Hospice, in Gosforth, Newcastle, provides expert specialist care to adults and children with life-limiting conditions, as well as support for families, friends and employers, with aim of helping patients and those who care for them make the most of their lives, no matter how long each life lasts.

The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter’s 55 kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the body, so does not impinge on cargo carrying space. As a result, the L2 (medium length), H2 (high roof) vehicle’s 11m3 load volume is identical to that of its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive stablemate, and half a cubic metre larger than the rear-wheel drive equivalent.

The eSprinter employs a 114 hp electric motor that drives the front wheels. It can travel 95 miles (combined WLTP with 80 km/h speed limiter) on a single charge – ample for most urban delivery and ‘last mile’ applications. Recuperative energy recovered when decelerating supplements the batteries’ output.

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