Hippos draw crowds from near and far

They came in their hundreds from as far afield as Cornwall to see the herd - busily ticking off each beast as they toured the town.From a pink feather adorned example called Bubbles at the police station, to a windmill, wherry and heron festooned example in St Nicholas Church, the long awaited herd of hippos finally came to North Walsham at the weekend.

They came in their hundreds from as far afield as Cornwall to see the herd - busily ticking off each beast as they toured the town.

From a pink feather adorned example called Bubbles at the police station, to a windmill, wherry and heron festooned example in St Nicholas Church, the long awaited herd of hippos finally came to North Walsham at the weekend.

The hippos form an event dubbed the Hippo Hunt, which was dreamt up as a direct result of last summer's Go! Elephants trail in Norwich. Some have been on show for a few days, but Saturday was the official launch and the first day all 50 could be ticked off by keen hunters.

The hunt, which runs around town during half term week and the two bookend weekends, attracted all sorts of ages throughout the long weekend.


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School children, teachers, charities and professional artists have been busy in recent weeks preparing the hippos with a range of designs, many of them helping promote organisations - such as the rugby ball decorated beast in the window of the Break charity shop, which represented North Walsham Vikings rugby club.

Some hippos were harder to find than others, with Honey the Hippo, painted by the children of Millfield Primary School, hiding away in a far off corner of the shop.

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One of the more imaginative creations was the Hippo United display in the window of electricians Plummers, where David the Hippo was surrounded by footballing items such as a goal, football, Manchester United playing shirts and artificial turf.

The hunt has had a wide range of positive impacts, including bringing different organisations into partnership through preparation, sponsorship and 'babysitting' the hippos, said organiser Paul East, co-owner of the town's Divine Restaurant.

Other benefits saw potentially hundreds if not thousands of people walking through the doors of participating businesses, some of which they may not even know existed despite being local to the area.

Clare Fletcher, headteacher of North Walsham Infant School and Nursery and one of the organisers, said: 'The fine weather has been of a great bonus to us with hundreds of people tempted to visit- I spoke to a family of four from Cornwall who had made the journey especially!'

At the weekend, those on the hunt were simply concerned with having fun.

Richard Hewson, visiting on the train from Norwich with his wife and three children, said it was the first time he had spent more than half an hour in North Walsham.

'The kids are having a great time, although I must admit us adults are enjoying it as well,' he added.

'This isn't a town I would normally think of coming to for half a day, but this has brought us here on a lovely sunny day and it's opened my eyes to what a nice, friendly place North Walsham actually is.

'I suspect we may not get round all 50 today, but that's fine - if we don't we'll just come back for a couple of hours during one of the half term days.'

The hunt will finish on Sunday with a charity auction of most of the hippos in St Nicholas Court. The auction starts at 7pm. Entry is free.

Log on to www.hippohunt.co.uk for a map and more information.

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