Safari in the UK – our pick of this summer’s charity art trails

As our thoughts turn to summer holidays and fun times, many of us are looking for things to do that will entertain all ages, involve fresh air and new sights, and that also won’t break the bank.

Ticking all those boxes and with the added bonus of benefitting a range of good causes, there are some great art trails going on around the UK over the next few months, so if you’re not sure what to do or where to go this summer, why not combine travel with charity and visit a trail or two?

Here’s our selection of the art trails on offer between now and November, taking in a range of cities and even including an island or two – and each of them benefitting local charities.

Wallabies Gone Wild 2019

Wallabies Gone Wild 2019

Wallabies Gone Wild is taking place on the Isle of Man for 14 weeks from 24th May to 1st September with wallabies all over the island. There are 26 large wallaby sculptures designed by local and national artists and sponsored by local businesses, and 38 small ‘Wallababy’ sculptures that have been designed by the island’s schools and community groups. It benefits Hospice Isle of Man.

Elmer the Pathwork Elephant 2019

Elmer the Pathwork Elephant 2019

Elmer the Pathwork Elephant is appearing in a few locations this summer. From 15 June to 7 September, Ipswich is playing host to 55 individually designed elephants based on the much-loved children’s character. Visitors will also be able to meet the Learning Herd: 84 ‘young Elmers’, who will be popping up in special locations all across town. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of both St Elizabeth Hospice – the charity benefitting from Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk – and Elmer.

In celebration of Elmer’s special anniversary, there will be two other Big Parades taking place around the country: in Plymouth and Tyne & Wear. Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth takes place from 8th July – 16th September with 40 sculptures dotted around the city for St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, while the Great North Parade in Tyne & Wear will see over 50 elephants waiting to be found from 21st August – 1st November, benefitting St Oswald’s Hospice.

Our-Wullies Big Bucket Trail 2019

Our-Wullies Big Bucket Trail 2019

Up in Scotland, Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail is taking place across a number of cities. It kicked off on 17th June and continues until 30th August. Oor Wullie can be found in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, and benefits Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, ARCHIE Foundation and Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Go Wild Gorilla Project

In Jersey, gorillas are taking over, benefitting the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The Go Wild Gorilla trail sees 40 life-size gorilla sculptures, painted by a range of artists, dotted around the island for three months from 27th July to 14th October. Sculptures of young gorillas will appear first in local businesses and shop windows, painted by schools and community groups. Each of the 40 life-size sculptures will be sponsored by a local business, helping to raise money for a new indoor home for Jersey Zoo’s own gorilla family.

World Horse Welfare

Appearing in three locations, World Horse Welfare has created a 40-sculpture, multiple-location The World Horse Trail to tell the stories of horses helped by the charity and to highlight other areas of its work with horses in sport.  There is the Windsor Borough Trail, the Show Trail and the Farm Trail to discover. The trails will see horse sculptures appearing in a number of locations including at the charity’s Rescue and Rehoming Centres around the UK, and in several locations around the Royal Boroughs of Windsor and Eton to the end of July.

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria

Also around Windsor, a three-month display of painted lions is taking place from August to October to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria with 100% of the proceeds going to Thames Hospice, Windsor Lions, Tusk and Look Good Feel Better. The Lions of Windsor trail includes lion and cub sculptures decorated by UK artists, designers and illustrators, including Dame Zandra Rhodes, and sponsored by businesses, organisations and schools across the region.

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Julie PentecostSafari in the UK – our pick of this summer’s charity art trails

New research shows positive outlook from charities despite challenges

While it’s easy to focus on doom and gloom with the continuing uncertainty over Brexit and the economy hanging over us, two reports came out last month that reveal that, despite some challenges, the charity sector for one is not standing still.

In fact, the reports – Charities Aid Foundation’s 2019 UK Giving Report, and the IoF and PwC’s Fundraising for Impact – show that charities in general are forging ahead to ensure future sustainability, making positive changes to build trust and relationships, and working hard to innovate and raise more funds.

For Fundraising for Impact, the IoF and PwC surveyed over 100 fundraising charities of varying sizes. Despite concerns over increasing costs and how the economy uncertainty might affect how people give and demand for services, it found charities predicting a 10% growth in income over the next three years, and continuing to invest.

Fundraising priorities for the future

The IoF and PwC study asked charities to identify their main fundraising priorities, highlighting the top three as improving the experience of their current supporters (63%), reaching out to find new ones (59%), and innovation and trying new things (53%). Exploring new partnerships was also key.

Crucially, it seems these priorities are also being backed up financially, with the most important areas of investment stated being finding new supporters (91%) and improving the experience of current supporters (90%). Three quarters of respondents to this survey also said their charity’s investment in generating voluntary income was of the utmost importance.

Challenges to overcome  

Certainly CAF’s UK Giving 2019 report, which covers data collected monthly from 2016-2018 and comprising more than 12,000 individual interviews, points to a need to invest in the supporter experience. It found that the number of regular givers in the UK fell for the third year in a row during 2018 with 65% of the British public either giving money to charity directly or sponsoring a friend or family member in 2018, down from 69% in 2016.

Trust has also continued to decline with just under half (48%) of people in 2018 saying they believe charities to be trustworthy – down from 51% in 2016. Less people engaged in other social actions too in 2018, such as signing petitions, and taking part in local public consultations.

Giving insights

Those that do give financially are giving more however, according to CAF, with overall donations levels remaining fairly static at around £10 billion last year.

Some causes, of course, also fare better than others, with CAF’s report putting children/young people, and animal welfare in joint top spot for 2018. 26% of people said they had given to each of these causes in the month before being questioned in 2018. Following very closely behind is medical research, and in fourth place, hospitals and hospices. The least popular causes are arts, and sports and recreation, both scoring just 2%.

The causes that donors give the biggest donations to however, are somewhat different. Religious causes saw by far the largest donations in 2018, with an average gift size of £74 – up from 2017’s £59. Overseas aid and disaster relief and the arts both saw average donation sizes of £30, while in 2018, donations for schools, colleges, universities and other education remained the same as 2017 (£21) after falling from £46 in 2016.

A positive outlook

Encouraging people to give more, and more people to give then will undoubtedly continue to be a key issue for charities into the future. But, while the reports highlight numerous challenges, as well as work to be done, there are clear indications in both that charities are already proactively working to address them, putting supporters at the heart of their organisations, and focusing too on innovation and collaboration – positive news indeed.

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Julie PentecostNew research shows positive outlook from charities despite challenges

‘Loved ones’ doesn’t just mean families and friends.

‘Loved ones’ is such an all-encompassing description – friends, family and partners of course, but what about those we loved whose posters were on our walls as teenagers? The pop star pin ups of our teenage years? What happens to the love and affection we feel when they pass away? The British Liver Trust’s online Book of Memories has a new tribute page to one such pin up boy, the wonderful David Cassidy, who sadly passed away in 2017 and bravely shared his story before he passed.  

Davis Cassidy
David Cassidy by Allan Warren [Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0]

David had 10 albums with the Partridge Family and five as a solo artist and was definitely in the category of ‘poster boy’ – although he said he longed to be a rock n roller like Mick Jagger. From ‘Daydreamer’ in 1972 to Blood Brothers in the West End and his Vegas shows in the 1990’s, David continued to break hearts and fill venues with his soulful voice. In 2017 after a performance in which he was clearly struggling, David said he was living with dementia, but in an interview later that year he felt able to share the news that he had liver disease due to alcohol addiction. We are grateful to David and his family for sharing the cause of his illness and death, as many people struggle with alcohol and are afraid to speak about it as they feel they will be judged harshly. Only by being more open will we be able to make changes and support those who need it.

David’s Tribute page was set up by Camellia, who has been a fan since the 1970s. “I wanted to set up this page in Memorial of David Cassidy,” said Camellia, “as he has lots of dedicated fans who followed him here in the UK and supported him in all he did. Towards the end of David’s life he was very open about his addiction to alcohol and the effects it caused him physically and emotionally. He died way too young as many do from alcohol-related liver disease. An online memorial for fans to leave messages seemed a fitting tribute to him in recognition of his struggle. A final token of love from fans. And to highlight the amazing charity that helps all affected by this.”

British Liver Trust is very grateful to Camellia and all those who find comfort in setting up online tributes to loved ones – wherever and however they were loved.

To see David’s page and the lovely memories and comments of his fans, please go to:


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Julie Pentecost‘Loved ones’ doesn’t just mean families and friends.

How the annual Light Up a Life campaign is helping hospices attract new supporters & entice them online

Each year, hospices around the UK invite those who have lost loved ones to participate in Light Up a Life and make a dedication to their memory on a Tree of Lights and a Book of Remembrance, often accompanied by a donation.

It’s a campaign we keep a close eye on at the Online Book Company as a provider of these dedication books with an annual analysis of the results, and we’ve just published our survey on its performance in 2018.

It reveals a number of interesting insights for fundraisers, and not just for those in the hospice sector. Encouragingly, we can report that it’s a campaign seeing growing engagement and, not only is average donation value up year on year, raising more vital funds for participating hospices, but our analysis reveals that it is also helping with supporter recruitment. Critically too, with a demographic traditionally more comfortable contributing offline, there is evidence that it is playing a role in bridging that digital divide by providing impetus for them to try online.

daffodils - helping hospices attract new supporters

In fact, what we’re seeing is that while many hospices still have to add people’s dedications to their online Books of Remembrance themselves, engagement with these volumes is increasing through people then sharing them with family and friends. Online contributions are also rising. Our survey shows they grew from 3.5% to 5% year on year and this is a figure we expect to increase rapidly over the coming years as online-first generations begin to take on responsibility for their elderly family members.

Overall, 2018’s Light Up a Life campaign saw a significant 27% year on year increase in donation values with, also across all hospices, 20% choosing to top up their donations at checkout.

That’s not all. It’s particularly interesting to see the difference that offering free dedications makes to donation values, compared to when a minimum donation is asked for: raising an average £1 more per dedication. Our analysis also highlights significant gender differences in terms of the typical number of dedications made, and donation value.

And, post GDPR, when many charities are seeking new avenues for increasing their supporter bases, our survey reveals that the Light Up a Life campaign is helping hospices do just this. Up to three-quarters of those asked to consider opting in to the four main channels of phone, email, SMS and post consented to future email communications for example, while an encouragingly low 15% opted out from receiving all marketing communications when presented with this choice.

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Jonathan HawardHow the annual Light Up a Life campaign is helping hospices attract new supporters & entice them online

2016 for The Online Book Company

This year, The Online Book Company has had the massive privilege of working with so many people for so many good causes.

We have had the wonderful honour of learning more about and remembering the memory of such inspiring people such as Martyn Heighton (Director of National Historic Ships UK), Nicole Bourque (Senior Lecturer in Anthropology) as well as the firefighters we have lost & the brave people from the Royal Corps of Signals.

We are also thrilled to be able to celebrate the achievements of awe-inspiring people such as Harry Singha who reached a very special milestone of 30 years of professional service in philanthropist. He has helped many young people overcome their fears and problems with his brilliant workshops and meditation services.

This year was also the Queen’s 90th birthday and we were given the absolute privilege of creating an online birthday book where anyone can leave a birthday message for her Majesty. Further, at the end of 2016, we were given the opportunity to create “The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries Online Book” in order to help raise money to help fund the historic addition Westminster Abbey which is due to open in 2018!

We are looking forward to seeing who we will meet & what projects come in 2017. We all hope you had a great 2016 and we would like to wish you a Happy New Year for 2017.

To view all of the books we created in 2016, please look at the links below:

Harry Singha – Book of Value



Celebrating Erin



 In Memory of Martyn Heighton



In Memory of Nicole Bourque






The Queen’s Birthday Book



Royal Corps of Signals



 St Catherine’s Church



St David’s Hospice Care



The Firefighters Memorial Trust



 Westminster Abbey – The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries



If you would like to raise awareness, increase engagement and funds for your charity or project or simply honour a loved one, contact us to find out how we can create an online book for you.

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Katherine George2016 for The Online Book Company

The Queen’s Birthday Book

Many things have happened in 2016, but looking at the brighter side of this year we would like to remember Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday.

The Queens’ Birthday Book was one of our biggest projects of 2016. Starting at the beginning of the year, we pulled out all the stops in order to create this Online Book as a surprise. Everyone & anyone had the opportunity to write a personal message to the Queen. Celebrities such as Alan Titchmarsh, Simon Pegg, Lorraine Kelly & Jamie Oliver have put their own messages of appreciation in the book. For a full list of celebrities & stars who signed The Queen’s Birthday Book, click here.

Lots of people sent heartfelt messages, poems and photographs of themselves, their family and their moments with The Queen. John Deere shared his moment with The Queen with a fantastic photograph of them both standing by the John Deere Limited Stand at the Royal Smithfield Show in London in the 70s which he accompanied with a warm message.

The 21st of April 2016 marked the official date of The Queen’s 90th birthday! On the day itself, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh undertook a walkabout in Windsor and then walked from the Henry VIII Gate of Windsor Castle to the Statue of Queen Victoria. There she unveiled the plaque marking The Queen’s Walkway.

The Queen’s Birthday Book was such a success! It had thousands of heart-felt good wishes from 111 countries around the world! Even though months have passed since the online book’s official release, many people still come back to view and comment upon it.

The Queen’s Birthday Book is definitely a large feather in our caps and you can view the little piece of British history here.

If you would like to raise awareness, increase engagement and funds for your charity or project or simply honour a loved one, contact us to find out how we can create an online book for you.


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Katherine GeorgeThe Queen’s Birthday Book

The Twelve Days of Christmas

As we near one of the most exciting times of the year that is Christmas, our minds turn to festivities such as presents, mince pies and Christmas carols, like the famous ’12 days of Christmas’ song we all know. Usually, countdowns, lead to the big day, however, the ’12 days of Christmas’ actually begins on Christmas day and end on January 5th. But what are the true meanings of each day and that partridge in a pear tree?

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, A Partridge in a Pear Tree… But did you know… The Partridge is said to symbolically represent Jesus Christ, this is because that bird is selflessly willing to sacrifice its life to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Two Turtle Doves… these two turtle doves are actually the Old and New Testaments.

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Three French Hens… these three lovely French Hens stand for faith, hope, and love.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Four Calling Birds… but who know these ‘calling birds’ were actually symbolizing Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Five Gold Rings… which represent the first five treasured books of the Old Testament

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Six Geese A-laying… this simply stood for the six days of creation.   

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Seven Swans A-swimming… these represent Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy, the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Eight Maids A-milking… these are the eight beatitudes, blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Nine Ladies Dancing… these ladies actually represent the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit, including love, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Ten Lords A-leaping… and these lords represent the ten commandments, that we know today.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Eleven Pipers Piping who represent the eleven faithful apostles, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James. There is also the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who famously betrayed Jesus.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Twelve Drummers Drumming… who symbolize the twelve points of belief in the ‘Apostles creed’.

We at the Online Book Company, wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

All Twelve days of Christmas

All Twelve days of Christmas



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Polly BolithoThe Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Traditions from Around the World

The countdown begins to Christmas! In the United Kingdom, the tinsel is being strung around the house, thick festive jumpers are being worn and warm mulled wine is being drunk. But what about the rest of the world? How do other countries celebrate Christmas?

In the United Kingdom, most British families celebrate Christmas together on the 25th of December – often to have a traditional Christmas lunch after having opened their presents in front of each other. However, Christmas is celebrated in the Netherlands on the 5th of December and for Russia and Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January! Its also very common to see a Christmas tree in a British household, which was first popularized by Prince Albert. Prince Albert has german origins and he missed his own Christmas traditions, hence why he brought the Christmas tree to the British public. Whereas in India, people decorate mango and banana trees instead of fir trees, due to the hot climate, and Ukrainians decorate their trees with spider webs due to an old legend where a spider turned their webs into gold and silver for a poor family.

Christmas isn’t just about the day itself – it is about the weeks leading up to it. The United Kingdom usually preps for Christmas by carol singing, festive markets, and Christmas fairy lights. On the 5th of December, German children leave shoes outside the house to be filled with sweets overnight. In Czech republic, single women, on Christmas Eve, will turn their backs to the house and throw a shoe over their shoulder to see whether they will find love or not next year. In Norway on Christmas Eve, there is the strict rule of no cleaning – all brooms are kept locked away in case they are stolen by witches. Finally, Japanese usually tuck into a bucket of KFC on Christmas eve due to a widespread ad campaign for the deep-fried fast-food in 1974.

British families will often eat turkey on Christmas day, accompanied by cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts and pigs-in-blankets and then finished off with a mince pie and some Christmas pudding. In South Africa, the Christmas delicacy is a deep-fried caterpillar of the Emperor Moth! Less unusual Christmas dishes are Romania’s Ciorba de perisoara, a delicious vegetable broth with meatballs and another is Spanish turkey stuffed with truffles, often served with chorizo and mushrooms. For dessert on Christmas, Swedes will often eat a festive rice pudding that has an almond hidden in it – whoever finds it will supposedly be married within a year. Other Christmassy desserts are Philippine’s moist rice-coconut-cheese cake, German Stollen fruit cake and Austrian’s chocolate sponge with apricot jam – delicious!

We at the Online Book Company, wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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Polly BolithoChristmas Traditions from Around the World


Gentlemen, this December, it’s time to ‘ditch your razor and grow a beard’, but why you may ask? It is of course for ‘Decembeard’, a fundraising campaign, which exists to raise awareness and funds for those affected by bowel cancer. So it’s time to turn your Movember moustache into a beard for Decembeard.

Did you know, someone dies from bowel cancer every half an hour, and every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed? Affecting both men and women, bowel cancer is the third most common cause of death in the world. If this disease is caught early enough it can be treated with success, it is for this reason why it is so important to raise awareness, it could save lives.

Decembeard has been running successfully for over five years, with thousands of men getting involved to show their support with their beards.

‘Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ is to never give up until no one dies of bowel cancer and all those diagnosed get the support they need. – decembeard.org

Not only are men growing their beards for this good cause, but those who already have one can spread joy and Christmas spirit through the use of glitter, they can get their friends to sponsor their glittery beard, as well as, other fundraising options. Whatever you decide to do, everyone is prompted to share their beard fundraising experience via social media to create more of an impact.

The way the Decembeard fundraising campaign gets men together to do their bit for a good cause is truly incredible. If you would like to raise awareness, increase engagement and funds for your charity or project or simply honour a loved one, contact us to find out how we can create an online book for you.


Photo credit to Decembeard.org

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Polly BolithoDecembeard

Laughter Africa

“They don’t give up, they carry on living with strength and courage. They are not victims, they are survivors.”

Since starting on 25th June 2015, Laughter Africa has successfully worked with over one hundred children living in harsh conditions on the streets of Sierra Leone. An astounding 85% of those children are still at home, some of which have been on the streets for up to 9 years, which is truly incredible.

There are many challenges for children living on the streets, from discrimination and violence all the way to the saddest circumstance of death. Laughter Africa works in three main ways; firstly through their Outreach work, which involves meeting children living on the streets and building mutual trust, these children will often need food, medical care and someone to talk to. Secondly, their Interim Care Centre will provide, food, clothing, healthcare, counselling, support and a safe place for the children to live while Laughter Africa attempts to find their family. Activities such as football are also used to strengthen trust, in order to get closer to the goal of helping children break free from the street life. Lastly Their home tracing, family reunification and home visits mean that the children will be reunited with their families providing the situation is safe and secure. If this is not the case, an alternative long-term home will be found. Whatever the children need, Laughter Africa is there to provide.

The support that Laughter Africa provides is truly inspirational, and we are very proud to work with them on their online book that is full of inspirational stories and experiences from all of those who are or have been part of Laughter Africa. We would like to wish Laughter Africa good luck in the future with this fantastic project

“I just want to say a massive thank you to the online book company and all their amazing staff. They believed in me and Laughter Africa when Laughter was just a dream. They have been there every step of the way since February 2014 and have just been so supportive. I really do appreciate them and I can’t thank them enough.”  –  James, founder of Laughter Africa

If you would like to raise awareness, increase engagement and funds for your charity or project or simply honour a loved one, contact us to find out how we can create an online book for you.


Photo Credit: Laughter Africa

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Polly BolithoLaughter Africa