Elephants, hippos, now Beccles sells off its ducks

Victoria NichollsThey may not match the size of the Norwich elephants or the charm of the North Walsham hippos, but the Beccles ducks have created a real sense of fun for locals and visitors to the town over the summer.Victoria Nicholls

They may not match the size of the Norwich elephants or the charm of the North Walsham hippos, but the Beccles ducks have created a real sense of fun for locals and visitors to the town over the summer.

Now the giant fibreglass ducks that adorned the market town as part of an art exhibition are looking for new homes.

This Friday, 11 out of the 20 colourfully decorated birds that made up the giant duck art trail will go under the hammer on at Durrants Auction Rooms in Beccles.

Organiser Liz Goldspink said it marked the end of a highly successful project. 'It came about because we were inspired by the elephants in Norwich last year,' she said. 'With the Beccles duck race now having been on for five or six years, ducks seemed to be the obvious choice so at one committee meeting we had a couple of glasses of wine and thought it would be a good idea.


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'We were hoping to sell eight then it went mad and we sold 20 and we had to draw the line because it would have been unmanageable.'

Last year's popular Go Elephants display in Norwich saw 50 lifesized baby elephant sculptures decorated by local artists and dotted around the city. Its success was followed by the North Walsham Hippo Hunt and auction earlier this year, which raised more than �30,000 for charity.

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Among those who commissioned giant ducks were schools in Beccles and Worlingham, who found companies willing to sponsor them, and linked up with local artists who helped them with the designs and decoration.

The 20 colourful creations spent eight weeks on display, before being featured as a collection for the first time at the annual duck race this month.

Now some of the pieces of art will remain as permanent fixtures in the area, such as at Waveney River Centre and the Norfolk & Norwich children's ward. Other groups opted to put their ducks up for auction, with charities including East Anglian Children's Hospice and Beccles Christmas lights fund set to benefit.

Durrants' sale room manager Miles Lamdin said that although each duck had a reserve price of �100 he could not predict how much they would fetch at auction.

'This is a first for me,' he said. 'People might buy them for their kids. They are fun things to put in the garden - obviously they are weatherproof as they've been outside over the past few weeks.'

Mrs Goldspink said she hoped the ducks would take pride of place in their new homes, wherever they ended up, adding: 'It has been a huge success - I'm really pleased that the project has been so well received, and we've had so much support from the town and I think most of the businesses and shops have benefitted - we've heard from some that their profits have been up. I think it's been good for the town.'

The ducks are available for viewing between 9am and 4pm today and tomorrow. The auction will take place at about midday on Friday.

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