What is The Big Sleuth?

Following the incredible success of The Big Hoot in 2015, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity is once again working with creative producers, Wild in Art, to bring a sequel to the streets of Birmingham for the summer of 2017. This time, however, rather than owls, the trail will be bears and the project is called The Big Sleuth.

Why is it called The Big Sleuth?

The collective name for a group of bears is called a ‘sleuth’, the definition of a sleuth is also a detective. The noun sleuthing is defined as ‘the search for something’. Like with The Big Hoot, the project encourages residents and tourists to explore and discover a trail of bears, therefore the natural name for this year’s event is The Big Sleuth.

Why a bear?

  • The bear has universal appeal, no matter your age.
  • The bear’s an animal that has never been used before; The Big Sleuth bear trail will be the first trail of its kind.
  • The bear is an animal that is synonymous with children.
  • The bear has many disguises/interpretations, allowing for lots of different artistic sculptures to be created.
  • The bear is a storyteller – the bear tells a good story because it has got a good story.
  • The bear will bring out the explorer/traveller in all of us to ensure residents/tourists get active and walk the trail.

What type of bear is it and why?

The Big Sleuth bear is a sun bear, also known as the honey bear. The sun bear is the smallest of the world’s eight bear species, about half the size of the American Black Bear which makes it the perfect choice for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

The schools programme brings to life the environment and conversation messages for the sun bear. It is estimated that Birmingham has largest population of trees in Europe – apparently a million trees within its boundaries – so with deforestation a major threat to the sun bear, it has come to explore Birmingham.

The sun bear originates from South East Asia and 2017 is the 70th anniversary of Indian independence. The event also links to Birmingham City Council’s East South Asian Year of Culture.
See more: https://utsavyearofsouthasianculture2017.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/the-big-sleuth/

Is the event free?

Yes! It is completely free to follow The Big Sleuth and The Learning Programme trail. Trail maps can be downloaded on our website.

When will the trail launch?

The Big Sleuth will launch on Monday 10 July, and will be live for 10-weeks over the summer, finishing on Sunday 17 September.

Where will the bears be located?

The Trail Map will give information about the locations for both The Big Sleuth and The Learning Programme. This will all be revealed soon.

Where can I get hold of The Trail Map?

You can get a The Big Sleuth map from any of the following London Midland stations: New Street, Snow Hill, Moor Street, University, Jewellery Quarter, Solihull, Sutton.

You can also pick one up in The Gracechurch Centre, The Core, Solihull, Lightwood House, Resorts World, Library of Birmingham, the Fundraising Hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and The Big Sleuth outlet store in Great Western Arcade.

The Trail Map is also available to download.

Where can I donate the £1 suggestion, as detailed on the maps?

£1 donations can be made in the Fundraising Hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and The Big Sleuth outlet store in Great Western Arcade! Or you can make a £3 donation by texting SLEUTH to 70007.

Will the bears be in the same places as the owls?

The Trail Map will give information about the locations for both The Big Sleuth and The Learning Programme. This will all be revealed soon.

How long is the trail?

The Big Sleuth trail stretches across 70 miles*

*The 70 mile distance is an approximation based on location mapping via Google Maps.

How easy will it be to see the bears?

The aim is for the trail to take people on a journey of discovery and to showcase many areas of the city. Each of the locations have been chosen as they are fully accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However some local restrictions may apply. Wild in Art, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and The Big Sleuth cannot be held liable for any bears that are unavailable for viewing.

What will happen to the bears on completion of the project?

After communities and tourists have enjoyed participating in The Big Sleuth and everybody’s creativity, dedication and support has paid off – the large bears and the celebrity endorsed bears will be auctioned to raise much-needed money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. The community bears and little bear cubs will be returned to their communities and schools respectively as a lasting legacy.

Can I buy a bear?

Yes, full size bears and the celebrity endorsed bear cubs will be sold at the charity auction in October. The community bears and school bear cubs will not be available to buy, they will be returned to either their communities or each of the schools as a permanent memento following the summer’s event.

Can anyone bid for them?

Yes – the bidding process and all details about the auction will be available nearer the time.

How will the auction work?

The auction will take place in October. Following the trail, the sculptures will be refurbished by artists bringing each of the sculptures back to excellent condition before they go under the hammer.

How much do you expect to make?

Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Wild in Art hope that the auction will raise in excess of £500,000 to support the pioneering work of the children’s hospital.

Where does the money go?

The hospital treats one in five children from Birmingham and one in eight from the wider West Midlands – and each of those patients will benefit from the charity in some way, whether that’s helping us improve the places where children in our hospital play, making sure we have the latest equipment and technology, or even supporting us in find out new ways to help children and young people through research.

Where can I buy The Big Sleuth merchandise?

Visit the Fundraising Hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the Big Sleuth Outlet in the Great Western Arcade or shop online at store.bch.org.uk/bigsleuth to get your paws on a wide range of official merchandise. From tea-towels and t-shirts to pens and pencils you are sure to find the perfect souvenir to remind you of the summer The Big Sleuth bears took over the region.

When is the Fundraising Hub open?

The Fundraising Hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (B4 6NH) is open from Monday to Friday, from 9am until 5pm. Don’t forget our online shop is always open! Visit store.bch.org.uk/bigsleuth to shop the entire range.

When is the Big Sleuth Outlet open?

The Outlet Store at the Great Western Arcade (Unit 30, B2 5HU) is open from 10am – 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday and 11am – 4pm every Sunday.

Who should I contact if I have a query about official merchandise?

If you have any questions about the official Big Sleuth merchandise range, please email our team at bwc.fundraisinghub@nhs.net who will be happy to help.

Can I get a figurine like Florence?

Through our merchandise, we want to raise as much as possible for the children at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and their families. Unfortunately due to changes in production costs, we are saddened that we can’t recreate our beautiful bears into figurines (similar to the owls 2 years ago). However, we have produced a wide range of other bear-illiant merchandise which will allow us to raise vital funds needed to make a real difference to all our sick kids treated at our hospital. We hope you enjoy looking through the range of products available and perhaps consider creating your very own Big Sleuth bear with our plain bisque which is just £12.99! Shop now.

Who created the bear sculpture?

The Big Sleuth bear has been created specifically for Birmingham and the trail will be the first of its kind. Created by Guy McKinley and developed by Wild in Art, our bear sculpture has been designed to act as a canvas for artists, schools and communities to showcase the creativity and uniqueness of Birmingham.

Who designed the bears?

Through an open call out to artists, The Big Sleuth invited local, regional and national artists – professional and amateur, famous and undiscovered – to submit designs. Designs were welcome in any art form – traditional to new media, fine art to illustrations, graffiti and mosaic, embroidery to metalwork. Whatever the art form, we were keen to add drama, fun and a creative flourish to The Big Sleuth sculpture trail.

The portfolio of designs was then presented to the sponsors in March at a Sponsorship Preview reception. At this event, sponsors identified the artwork they would like to choose and the artist was commissioned. In addition, artists worked with community groups on projects with different themes ranging from environment to well-being, through to local history and culture, to create a truly local celebration of The Big Sleuth.

What happens if a bear is vandalised?

The locations of the bears are purposefully chosen to avoid vandalism. In most of our events, this is a rare occurrence. Decisions about vandalism are made on a case-by-case basis. Principally, all efforts will be made to restore the bear sculpture. If there is repetition of the vandalism once the bear has been restored, a different location will be found for the bear.


If you need to report a vandalised or damaged bear, please call: 0121 303 4149

Who is responsible for The Big Sleuth?

Following the flying success of The Big Hoot in 2015, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity is once again working with creative producers Wild in Art to bring a sequel to the West Midlands.

Who are the project’s major sponsors?

The sponsorship drive has been enormously successful and has been supported by all sectors of the business community across the region. A full list of sponsors can be found on our website. The project’s Presenting Partners are London Midland and Vodafone.

What will be the economic benefits to the region?

The Big Hoot left a valuable economic and social legacy for Birmingham as it unlocked the power of creativity to connect communities through art. In total the sculptures attracted an estimated 800,000 visitors, of which 26% were from outside the West Midlands. Collectively they spent an additional £8 million directly as a result of their visit to the trail. It is expected that The Big Sleuth will deliver the same.

How many visitors do you expect the project to attract once the bears are on display?

The Big Hoot attracted an estimation of 800,000 visitors to the trail, of which 26% were from outside the West Midlands. Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Wild in Art aim to increase the amount of visitors this year to one million.

Why isn’t there a bear in my local area?

The Big Sleuth is a partnership-led event and very much depends on the buy-in of local communities, funders and sponsors. Additionally, we invited schools throughout Birmingham to get involved and showcase young people’s creativity in their local area in a schools trail of medium sized bears (cubs).

Who’s paying for the bears to be made and designed?

All large bears on the trail are sponsored by different companies in the region, the bear cubs have been paid for by different schools in the region or, a company who has kindly sponsored the bear cub for them, and our 10 community bears have been paid for by the community who have funded them in many different ways to secure their individual bears. The Big Sleuth is a full cost recovery project and it’s thanks to our sponsors that we’ve been able to put the trail on.

Who is Wild in Art?

Wild in Art is one of the leading creative producers of spectacular, mass-appeal public art events which bring together business and creative sectors with schools and local communities to create a shared experience that supports the host city’s sense of identity; its economy; environment; and showcases its creativity and innovation.

Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including Sydney, Melbourne, Cape Town and São Paulo and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces and Aardman Animations. Wild in Art events have:

Attracted over 7 million additional visitors to host cities across the UK and worldwide

Contributed over £1.2m to local creative communities

Enabled over £10m to be raised for charitable causes

Engaged over 100,000 young people in creative programmes

For further information about Wild in Art visit www.wildinart.co.uk | @Wild_in_Art

Will there be a The Big Sleuth app?

Yes! With The Big Sleuth app, you can:

Collect Bears

Unlock rewards

View your trail progress

Add your photos to our gallery and share on social media. Remember to use #TheBigSleuth

Activate your fundraising and connect the app with your Just Giving page
Plus loads more bear-illiant features for just £1.99* from the App Store or Google Play.

*Net proceeds will be donated to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity

The Big Hoot app was free to download, how come The Big Sleuth app is £1.99?

The Big Sleuth app has lots of new and exciting features this year including the ability to track your steps with the pedometer as well as unlocking bears and collecting rewards. The vast array of rewards include free entry to attractions, discounted prices, and 2-4-1 offers, supplied by our generous corporate sponsors.  The rewards are unlocked when you collect their bear on the trail and also include entry into competitions such as a free family holiday in the New Forest, Hampshire, a years free bus travel with National Express West Midlands and a trip to Alton Towers escorted by helicopter! As well as fantastic rewards, approx. 70% of the app profit will go directly to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity meaning that sick kids in our region and beyond will continue to benefit from the excellent care the hospital provides.

Some of my rewards in the app are changing, why is this?

Some of our app rewards are being updated weekly as the trail goes on. Please keep checking back in the rewards page on your app to see if anything has been updated and to see if you are entitled to a new reward.

I didn’t get chance to redeem one of my rewards, and now it has expired! Can you help?

Some of the rewards are time-sensitive as they are linked to live events, so when the event finishes, the reward also expires. When you unlock a reward, we recommend checking the reward  details to ensure that it does not need to be redeemed within a certain time frame.

What is the Learning Programme?

The Big Sleuth Learning Programme, aka The Little Bears Detective Club is a school initiative, where we invited schools, young people and community groups to be inspired, get imaginative and decorate a mini sun bear, youngsters took inspiration from local history, the plight of the endangered species, and South Asian arts and culture. The decorated mini bears will be displayed in arts, cultural and leisure venues across the city alongside up to 100 large bears, sponsored by businesses and decorated by regional artists, as part of The Big Sleuth trail. At the end of the summer, the mini sun bears will be returned to the schools and community groups that decorated them.

How long does it take to complete the trail?

In total there are 100 bears across Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and Sandwell with a separate trail also at Resorts World. Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity has a number of fundraising challenges for you to complete the trail, including seeing all the bears within 24 hours!

The trail in the Birmingham city centre (which starts and finishes at Birmingham New Street), is estimated to take approximately 2 hours, covering 1.9 hours discovering 23 large bears and 3 clusters of bear cubs.

Look for the bears in New Street Station then exit via Navigation Street.

See the bear at the top of John Bright Street then carry on to The Mailbox.

Exit via Commercial Street then cross the canal towards Gas Street Basin and on to Brindleyplace and the National SEA LIFE Centre.

Cross over the canal to The ICC, then go past the Symphony Hall to the Library of Birmingham.

Cross Paradise Bridge walkway, then walk along to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Victoria Square.

Go along New Street and then back to New Street Station via Stephenson Street.

What celebrities are involved this year?

This year we are proud to announce that an array of famous faces have supported the trail including very well respected artists Temper and Reuben Colley, both of whom have designed bears. We also have The Vamps star Bradley Simpson, Adil Ray A.K.A Citizen Khan, Bear Grylls and a special Peaky Blinders bear endorsed by the show’s writer Steven Knight.

What fundraising challenges are there?

Take on one of our grrr-eat fundraising challenges and help us to do more for our sick kids.

Super Sleuth Challenge

Take part in our Super Sleuth challenges and get sponsored to complete the 100 mile trail.

100 BEAR-CENT – give it your all and see all the bears in less than 30 days!

MISSION IM-PAW-SIBLE – can you visit all of the bears in just 24 hours?

GO THE DISTANCE – cover the equivalent distance of the trail in a week – on foot, bike or even roller skates!

Grin & Bear It

Whether it’s waxing your legs, shaving your head or leaving the car at home, we want you raise funds by stepping outside your comfort zone. Fundraising fun at home or work, our Grin & Bear It challenges will test your resolve and your willpower!

*If you just can’t wait to get involved you can sign up now at bch.org.uk/register

Where can I park?

For city centre parking:
B4 Car Park is ideally located on Weaman Street, in between Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Snow Hill Railway Station. This bright, clean and ticketless car park provides ample parking across 6 floors, with glass lifts, toilets and 24/7 concierge.  Parking tariffs can be found at https://www.b4parking.com. Anyone can park at B4, but members get extra benefits, including free parking at weekends throughout The Big Sleuth. It’s free to sign up.


See link: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Resident/Parking-travel-roads/parking/car-parks/solihull-town-centre-car-parks



See link: http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200286/parking_and_permits/921/car_parks_in_sandwell


Sutton Coldfield:

See link: https://www.gracechurchcentre.com/visit-us/parking/


Resorts World:

See link: https://www.resortsworldbirmingham.co.uk/getting-here/

Is the trail wheelchair accessible?

Yes, The Big Sleuth trail is wheelchair accessible. Information for disabled visitors or those with limited mobility is available from www.visitbirmingham.com/travel/accessible-birmingham

Are there locations nearby for disabled parking?

City Centre:
Yes. B4 Car Park has 20 disabled parking spaces, with easily accessible lifts on each level.

Sutton Coldfield:
Yes! There are 35 disabled spaces in the Gracechurch Centre car park.  They are located on Levels 1, 3 and 5 with lift access to the ground floor. There is also a designated disabled parking area on Brassington Avenue, adjacent to the Gracechurch Centre. There are also ground level pay and display car parks on Station Street, Mill Street and Duke Street with easy access to the trail, plus a multi-storey on Victoria Road and a pay-on-exit parking at New Hall Walk (entrance on Queen Street).

Resorts World:
Dedicated spaces for disabled and Blue Badge drivers are located in all of the Resorts World Birmingham car parks which follow the Resorts World parking tariff.



Why is Intrepid Bear no longer on Cherry Street?

Sadly, Intrepid Bear was injured at the beginning of the trail, but he’s now back from the vets and modelling a brand-new look at his new home in House Of Fraser. Although our bears love being hugged by our friendly trail-goers, they need to be taken care of! We hope you enjoy taking on the trail, but please do be gentle with our bears and refrain from climbing on them – bear hugs and selfies are still paw-fectly fine.

Why has Build a Bear moved and changed design?

Unfortunately, we believe Build a Bear was damaged deliberately at the beginning of the trail so she has had to have a makeover and moved slightly – she has moved slightly down the road to just outside House of Fraser in Mell Square/Warwick Road.

Our bears are friendly creatures who like being hugged and having their photos taken. However they do need to be treated with respect and we would ask all of our sleuthers to be gentle and to refrain from climbing or swinging on them.

Why is there is a bear called Bella at University of Birmingham that’s not on the trail map? Is she part of the trail?

Bella is a bonus bear on the trail which was gifted to the museum thanks to our Educational Sponsor, The Schools of King Edward VI. Sadly there is no prize for identifying her, other than a big pat on the back for being super vigilant and a high five for visiting such a wicked awesome museum! We hope you had fun!

I can’t find the bears in the Gracechurch Centre, where are they?

We need you to be an extra hard-working sleuther to find the bear cubs in the Gracechurch centre!
There are four bear cubs to find in the Gracechurch Centre and four are situated in the town centre inside Wilkos, Waterstones, Sixth Sense Hair Salon and A-Plan Insurance.

I want to bid on a bear! How much are they likely to go for at the auction?

During The Big Hoot auction in 2015, the average owl sculpture was bought for £6,200. The highest selling owl was Re-Tail Owl who was sold for an incredible £18,000. If you’re interested in attending The Big Sleuth auction please register your interest here.