Sheep Parade to get tourists flocking

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A WOMAN is hoping a parade of colourful sheep will have the tourists ‘flocking’ to Garstang.

Lesley Woods is trying to start a new event for 2013 where up to 100 brightly-painted, life-size, individually designed sheep would appear all over the Forest of Bowland area from Clitheroe out to Settle and Lancaster, including all the towns and villages in between, as a novel new tourist attraction to be called the ‘Sheep Parade’.

The idea has been borrowed from a similar event held in Skipton for the first time last year and Lesley believes the success of that event could be replicated in Bowland.

She says: “Skipton organised such an event last year and said that numbers visiting the town increased by half a million, so why can’t the Forest of Bowland and surrounding towns?’’

The ‘Flock to Skipton’ event featured dozens of brightly painted sheep - including a trio designed by former Coronation Street actress turned artist Jayne Bickerton-Tunnicliffe, including a Bet Lynch-inspired ‘Coronation Sheep’.

Lesley, who lives in Clitheroe but teaches a hospitality diploma part-time at Longridge St Cecilia’s High School, has, with the support of a small grant from the Forest of Bowland Sustainable Development Fund, started looking into the support and expertise required to make such an event a success and provide funds for local charities.

She says: “I was inspired by the idea and have some experience in hospitality and event management, so I applied for the grant and now want to know whether we could make it work.’’

She would like to hear from businesses and organisations, both small and large, as well as individuals who would like to support it. The sheep would all require a sponsor or a group of sponsors – and an artist to design and paint them. The artist need not be an individual, it could be a community such as a school.

At the end of the life of the sheep, they would be auctioned off. Some of the sponsor money would be returned. The rest would go to local charities.

There have been similar successful art projects in many cities. Bath has its pigs and lions, there is the worldwide Cow Parade and now Flock to Skipton. Lesley’s enthusiasm for such an event was also inspired by the birds of Bilbao as well as the cows in Edinburgh.

If the event is to go ahead Lesley will be looking for a local sculptor to design the unique sheep, sponsors and artists for each sheep and also sponsors and venues for the launch events and the very important auction (in Bath some pigs sold for over £5,000!).

She will be looking for a local company to make the fibreglass sheep and also transport and install all of the sheep. Lesley will also need volunteer ‘shepherds’ - especially in the villages - to keep the sheep safe during their time outside.

If you would like to be involved in this project please email lesleywoods19@hotmail.com or ring the Forest of Bowland AONB on 01200 448000 and leave your contact details with them.