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Gromit unleashed at Westonbirt Arboretum

The Forestry Commission's National Arboretum at Westonbirt is welcoming a new canine visitor this summer, as part of a ground-breaking public art trail raising funds for Bristol Children's Hospital.

For 10 weeks from 1 July, Westonbirt will take part in a Bristol-wide art trail when it becomes the residence of one of 80 Gromit Unleashed sculptures.

Gromit Unleashed is an innovative public art trail, hitting the streets of Bristol and surrounding areas in aid of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital charity.

An eclectic mix of well-known and local artists, designers and celebrities have created their own, one-of-a-kind Gromit for the major public art exhibition, the first of its kind to feature an internationally-renowned character.

Eldoradog by Seb Burnett, photo credit Gina Mills/Forestry Commission

Westonbirt's sculpture has been created by Seb Burnett, a Bristol-based illustrator with street art influences. Seb's creation depicts a Victorian explorer named Bertram Fiddle on a mission to find the lost city of Eldoradog.

After the trail, the 80 giant, 5ft Gromit sculptures will be auctioned off to the highest bidders in aid of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal.

All funds from Gromit Unleashed will go towards the charity's appeal to support the expansion of Bristol Children's Hospital, one of the leading multi-disciplinary children's hospitals in the UK. The Grand Appeal has pledged to raise an initial £3.5 million for state-of-the-art equipment, including an intraoperative MRI scanner, family facilities and child-friendly artwork to enhance the £30 million investment by the NHS.

Nicola Masters, director of The Grand Appeal said:

"Wallace & Gromit are famous around the globe so Gromit Unleashed will help shine an international spotlight on Bristol and encourage people to visit the city, as well as raising much-needed funds to help sick children at Bristol Children's Hospital."

Gromit Unleashed: www.gromitunleashed.org.uk
Westonbirt Arboretum: www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt

1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk

3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity's objects are to support The National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at www.fowa.org.uk

4. The Westonbirt Project will make a big difference to everybody who comes to the arboretum. The project will mean a better welcome, a better visit and a better understanding of the heritage and importance of this world class tree collection. More information can be found at www.westonbirtproject.co.uk

5. Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal fundraises to support sick children and babies at Bristol Children's Hospital and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Michael's Hospital, Bristol. Founded in 1995, the Appeal has raised over £21 million towards the first purpose built children's hospital in the UK and continues to support by funding pioneering medical care and equipment, arts, music and play programmes and accommodation for sick children and their families. Bristol Children's Hospital is one of the UK's leading children's hospitals and treats young patients from across the South West, South Wales and beyond with life-threatening illnesses and serves as the paediatric intensive care centre for the whole South West region. The hospital is the regions specialist centre for a range of services including cardiac and renal treatment, complex surgeries and bone marrow transplants, treating over 100,000 patients every year. Visit www.grandappeal.org.uk

Source: Westonbirt: The National Arboretum

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