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Herd of hippos heads for north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 11:05 14 January 2009 | UPDATED: 09:20 13 July 2010

A LORRY from Poland filled with 40 “naked” hippos is due in North Walsham today .

And hopes are high that an international film star will follow in the spring to see the fibreglass models auctioned for good causes.

A LORRY from Poland filled with 40 “naked” hippos is due in North Walsham today .

And hopes are high that an international film star will follow in the spring to see the fibreglass models auctioned for good causes.

The white beasts will be taken off for decoration on Saturday by schools and organisations across the area, ready to take part in a Hippo Hunt around North Walsham town centre during the last week of May.

Organisers from the town's Manor Road infant school and nursery are waiting for confirmation from actress Virginia McKenna, who founded international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation, that she will attend the finale May 31 auction which has already attracted bookings from as far afield as Suffolk.

Head teacher Clare Fletcher and chair of governors Paul East hope today's arrivals will unite the community and herald a vital economic boost for the town's economy which has suffered a double blow with Woolworths' closure last week and Paston College's anticipated move out of its historic central site.

Schools from all over the area, together with community groups and other organisations have ordered hippos and are seeking sponsorship for them. They will benefit from the proceeds when the decorated beasts are auctioned.

Mr East said he expected thousands of people - all the pupils, their friends, families and many visitors who did not know North Walsham - would follow the hippo trail.

“Worstead's got its festival, Holt's Holt and Cromer's got its carnival. This will put North Walsham on the map,” he told a public meeting in the town on Tuesday, hosted by the Griffon Area Partnership.

Mrs Fletcher added: “This idea has really captured everyone's imagination. It's going to be a tough year for businesses out there. If we can get extra people into North Walsham spending money during that week, it's got to be beneficial.”

The meeting heard that the business community was already making hippo-themed preparations with one butcher planning hippo-burgers, a jeweller stocking hippo money-banks and another trader devising hippo smoothies for thirsty visitors.

Mr East hopes groups and individuals will organise their own hippo events during the week.

He hatched the idea after seeing the success of Norwich's Go Elephant! trail last summer which saw decorated model elephants dotted around the city and later auctioned for good causes.

·The hippos will be on public display in the school playground on Saturday from 10am to 11am. Sponsors are still needed for some of the beasts and town-centre businesses willing to babysit a hippo during hunt week are also wanted. Log on to www.hippohunt.co.uk for more details.


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