This is the story of little old Norfolk charity Break and the GoGoGorillas!
In September 2011, a fundraising idea was pitched to Break’s board of trustees and directors involving 5ft tall fibre glass statues! Remember the Elephants, we said? We would like to organise a similar trail around Norwich for the summer of 2013. After careful deliberation we were given the go-ahead and the rest as they say is history!
None of us realised back then the enormity of the challenge we were taking on. Working with Wild in Art, the arts educational company who organise sculpture trails all over the world, the gorilla was chosen as the animal with the closest link to Break’s work and a charity partner was approached, The Born Free Foundation. GoGoGorillas! was born.
Our first gorilla
Martin Green was appointed Project Manager and a small team set about producing Sponsors and Artists packs and the job of selling the idea to local companies and engaging artists to send in designs began. We commissioned artist Mik Richardson to do our first gorilla – Nelson – with iconic scenes of Norwich and Norfolk to show prospective sponsors. We approached the EDP/Evening News for their support and at the Royal Norfolk Show 2012, GoGoGorillas! was officially launched.
Our Patron Jake Humphrey with Nelson
By November we had ten sponsors and held a Sponsors and Artists event at the Assembly House, introducing the sponsors to the designs and giving them the opportunity to choose a design or an artist to work with for their gorilla. The event was a success and the media coverage encouraged more companies to get involved. Slowly but surely the number of sponsors was growing.
The Castle Mall gave us an Artists space in the run up to Christmas and the public had the opportunity to see several of the gorillas taking shape.
Artist Jenny Leonard at work on The Ape’d Crusader
With sponsors up to 30 we held a second Sponsors and Artists event in February at The Space with not only many more designs for sponsors to choose but several finished gorillas including BatGrill and Poppyland Hero and the yet to be named Referilla making their first public appearance.
Sponsors and Artists Event
Dates were set for the trail 24 June – 7 September and a date for the auction 3 October and over the next few months a flurry of activity to get the number of gorillas up to the magic 53, one more than the GoElephants who brought such colour and spectacle to the streets of Norwich in 2008. Trail maps were designed and the last few sponsors came on board.
In May, Boris the gorilla took a momentous journey to Liverpool Street Station where he would stay for six weeks to promote the trail and encourage people to visit Norwich.
Boris on his journey to Liverpool Street
Plinths were sourced and plaques designed. A GoGoGorillas! App, website and much activity on Facebook and Twitter with support from Break patron Jake Humphrey and Stephen Fry all helped to build the excitement.
A week before the official launch, the Riverside Entertainment Centre unveiled the first gorilla, King Kong standing tall on the Empire State Building.
Early on Sunday 23 June the gorillas left their home at R G Carter in a fleet of Ridgeon’s trucks and arrived on the streets of Norwich. And so the trail began!
By the end of the first week we had run out of the 100,000 trail maps we printed! So off to the printers again!
But there was to be one more gorilla! All the excitement surrounding the petition to bring the World Premiere of Alan Partridge’s movie debut in Alpha Papa to Norwich and it was duly announced that the premiere would indeed be held in Norwich. Phil Daniels and his daughter Sam worked all hours over four days to create AlanGorilla who was unveiled at the premiere and signed by the one and only Alan Partridge – Aha! So now we have 54!
This is the biggest fundraising project Break has ever undertaken and it is with great pride and happiness to all of us that our merry band of gorillas are on the streets of Norwich, albeit with a new version of Freddie! With only four weeks left, we hope you all enjoy the amazing designs and hunt to find all 54.
Social media has been an amazing stage for us to promote GoGoGorillas! Firstly engaging sponsors and artists and introducing people to Break and the work that we do. Latterly, with the individual gorillas setting up their own twitter accounts, tweeting amongst themselves and engaging others we have built up more followers. They even tried to hi-jack #norfolkhour and have set up their own #gorillahour!
GoGogorillas! is a great opportunity for the sponsors to get many weeks of advertising for their companies and the ones who have embraced it are reaping the rewards – through social media, organising gorilla themed events, competitions and research. The gorillas are hardly ever out of the news and went global when Freddie was taken off the streets.
Everything is now building up to the auction on Thursday 3 October when we will see if all our efforts pay off to raise funds for Break and The Born Free Foundation. For details of the auction go to www.gogogorillas.co.uk .
We have had massive support from local companies, artists, volunteers in all aspects of this amazing journey and we couldn’t have done it without them.
You can follow GoGoGorillas! on twitter @gogogorillas, FB gogogorillas, Flickr, www.gogogorillas – you can go to www.EDP24.co.uk to vote for your favourite gorilla and tweet pics to the EDP tweet trail and you can take a trip to Norwich and see them for yourselves!
Liz Richards is Senior Communications & Marketing Officer at Break, which supports children, young people and families across East Anglia.
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