Meet Gromit's friends Punch and Rex!
Did you know that our favourite pooch Gromit isn’t the first dog to help raise funds for Bristol Children’s Hospital?
In the 1880s, when the Victorian hospital stood at the top of St. Michael’s Hill, a terrier called Punch helped collect donations from the local community. He was owned by George Williams, landlord of the Standard of England pub on Castle Street, who even trained Punch to pick up coins in his mouth and drop them in the collection box! This plucky pooch was known as 'the children's friend', and raised £43 in his lifetime - around £4,000 today! In the picture above Punch is wearing bronze, silver and gold medals to mark his amazing achievement.
In the 1930s the Hospital found another four-legged friend in Rex, a Great Dane owned by Miss Cook, the Principal of Hampton House School. A true gentle giant, Rex wore his collection box strapped to his back with a special harness and was led around by the school’s pupils. By the time he retired he had collected £166, an impressive £10,000 today, and his son, Rajah, followed in his paw-prints.
Before the NHS was founded, Bristol Children’s Hospital was run under the ‘Voluntary System’, relying heavily on the generous support of the public and local philanthropists, so these dogs’ charitable work would have made a world of difference. Well done pooches!
In 2013 it was high time for The Grand Appeal to revive this canine tradition with a new – and very famous – dog: Gromit himself!
Our Gromit Unleashed trail saw 80 giant, artist-decorated sculptures of Aardman’s beloved character placed in iconic locations and green spaces throughout Bristol, raising funds for sick children and babies. Over the course of 10 weeks 1.2million eager Gromit fans tracked down the hounds, which were then sold in a grand charity auction.
Gromit continues to help raise funds through special exhibitions and sales of our cracking merchandise, including collectable Gromit figurines. In total Gromit Unleashed has raised over £5million for Bristol Children’s Hospital to date and is still going strong.
This summer you find 18 Gromit sculptures at our Gromit Unleashed: Homecoming Exhibition at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol. The exhibition runs until 4th September and is free to enter, with a suggested donation of £2 to The Grand Appeal. Find out more here.
Cracking job, lad! Punch, Rex, and Rajah would be very proud!