A Wild in Art event in support of Heart of Kent Hospice.

Bestselling children’s author shares his excitement ahead of Maidstone’s first art trail

David McKee, celebrated author and illustrator of the much-loved Elmer storybooks, is celebrating the popular children’s character bringing joy to Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade.

From Saturday 19 June Elmer the Patchwork Elephant will be bought to life when 51 Elmer sculptures arrive in the County town, waiting to be discovered across various locations.

These are no ordinary elephants – they’re on an important mission to raise awareness and funds for Heart of Kent Hospice as it celebrates its 30th anniversary of providing specialist advice, support and outstanding care for people living with a terminal illness.

David McKee said: “For over 30 years now Elmer has stood for accepting who you are and celebrating difference. We are all different, with so many differences, difference of colour, of accents, but also of size, shape and how we dress. The differences are what make the world so rich and its brilliant that we’ll celebrate that with Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade.

“I’m so excited by the thought of elephant sculptures being decorated by artists and children for the Parade. It will be fun both for the artists and the spectators who get to see them. But more than that it will be an enormous help to Heart of Kent Hospice to continue their important work. I can’t wait to see the sculptures on the streets of Maidstone this summer.”

Ahead of the nine-week art trail, there is the opportunity to spread the positivity of Elmer through creative activities as part of Elmer Day on 29 May, with resources from Andersen Press.

David adds: “The first Elmer book established ‘Elmer’s Day’ – the day every year when elephants decorate themselves and go out and parade. Since then, I’ve seen many drawings by children of decorated elephants.”

The free, family-friendly Parade – a collaboration between Heart of Kent Hospice, Wild in Art, Andersen Press and Official Presenting Partner Westerhill Homes – welcomes visitors to explore three routes, totalling around six miles, that weave through the streets of the County town, across the parks and along the river path.

The Elmer sculptures feature a unique design by a talented artist and are sponsored by a local business or organisation. Their locations will be revealed via a beautifully hand-illustrated map available at key town centre locations across Maidstone or via the free Parade app available on 19 June. The sculptures will have a unique app code that reveals some exciting rewards to download.

A host of volunteer Elmer Trailmakers will be stationed along the trail, at Elmer HQ in The Mall, and at Fremlin’s Elephant House in Fremlin Walk, to provide information about the trail and Hospice, and showcase the range of Elmer merchandise on offer.

Visitors can also discover Elmer’s Learning Herd, made up of 30 small Elmer sculptures, designed and painted by local schools and youth organisations from Maidstone and the surrounding areas – plus one special Elmer that has been designed especially for Heart of Kent Hospice.

Erica Snow, Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade Project Manager, said: “With just a few weeks to go we can’t wait for everyone to get involved in Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade and have some well-deserved fun this summer.

“We can’t wait to showcase the talent, commitment and hard work from our artists, Official Partners and Sponsors, schools and community groups, volunteer Trailmakers and our Friends of Elmer, who have all truly embraced the Parade.

“Whether you are a resident, visitor or arts trail lover, we look forward to welcoming you to Maidstone to explore the area and discover the herd while learning about the valuable work we do at Heart of Kent Hospice.”

Elmer's Big Heart of Kent Parade

Elmer's Big Heart of Kent Parade