Aston University bids farewell to X-ray Ed

X-ray Ed at Aston University 2017
Goodbye, good luck, X-ray Ed

20 September 2017

  • Aston’s bear leaves after 10-week staycation on campus in aid of charity
  • 100 bear sculptures heading for final weekend of fun at Eastside City Park
  • Almost 590,000 people have visited bears on The Big Sleuth public art trail

Aston University has said goodbye to its resident bear - X-ray Ed – who left his summer home on campus in the early hours of today to join fellow sun bears for a final gathering in the city centre before being auctioned for charity.

Sponsored by Aston Medical School, Ed is one of over 100 individually-designed bear sculptures across Birmingham and its surrounding regions in The Big Sleuth public art trail in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. 

He was resident at Aston for 10 weeks attracting thousands of bear hunters participating in the trail as well as visitors, delegates, students and staff on campus.

During his staycation X-ray Ed hosted a teddy bears picnic for children attending Aston University’s nursery, wrote a blog, posted regular tweets about his antics and was snapped in many a selfie. He had his own mortar board and gown for Graduation Week, supported Aston Villa and posed with the medical school’s Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare students attending summer school.

He even got personal dietary advice from Dr James Brown, taking a break between filming for two BBC health and fitness programmes, Trust Me I’m a Doctor and How to Stay Young

Ed also met his designer Anne Guest and inspired a range of bear-themed motifs by face and body artist Rowan Lennard who painted more than 50 faces and hands of visitors to campus plus around 20 children attending fracture clinic at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He also basked in July’s sun and endured heavy downpours in August and September.

Elinor Eustace, Deputy Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We can’t bear-lieve that after months of sleuthing fun, our bears are prowling off our streets and The Big Sleuth is coming to an end! We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the response our bears have had over the past few months and how much joy they’ve brought to tourists and residents alike.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has played their part in this initiative, including our wonderful artists and sponsors like Aston Medical School. We’re hoping kind-hearted sleuthers, including businesses and individuals, will buy the bear-utiful bears back so we can keep them in our region as a lasting memory, as well as raise much-needed funds for the 90,000 children our hospital cares for each year.”

Almost 590,000 people visited bears in The Big Sleuth. There is another opportunity to see them gathered together in Birmingham city centre’s Eastside City Park, next to Millennium Point, for a weekend of fun from Friday, 6 October to Sunday 8 October. The Farewell Weekend aims to provide a final programme of entertainment and fundraising, before all the bears are transferred to Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum where they will be auctioned in aid of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity on Thursday 12 October.  


Notes to the editor

Aston Medical School

Opens its doors to its first cohort of medical undergraduate students in September 2018. Students will embark on five years of study for an MBChB Medicine degree. The first intake will be made up of international students and 20 per cent of the 99 local students currently on the School’s innovative Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme who achieve the entry criteria.

X-ray Ed

Designed by Birmingham-based artist Anne Guest, X-ray Ed celebrates Birmingham’s place in the history of medical science with the pioneering work of radiographer John Hall-Edwards. Born in Kings Norton, Dr Hall-Edwards worked at the Birmingham General Hospital and in 1896 was the first to use X-rays in surgery. The former General Hospital is now the home of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Anne’s previous career as a radiographer at Birmingham’s Royal Orthopaedic and Queen Elizabeth hospitals inspired her design for X-ray Ed which includes parts of his bone structure and the contents of his stomach, including his favourite foods of bees, honey, figs, nuts and small lizards. 

For more detail go to Ed’s blog and Twitter account: 

The Big Sleuth

The Big Sleuth Farewell Weekend runs from Friday 6 October to Sunday 8 October at Birmingham Eastside City Park, next to Millennium Point. The opening times are 14:00 – 18:00 on Friday; 10:00 – 18:00 on Saturday and 10:00 – 16:00 on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased here  and cost £5 for adults and £3 for 4-16 year olds, under 4s go free.  All profits from the ticket sales will go to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

Following the final weekend, the bears will be moved to the Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum in preparation for a public auction in aid of the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity on Thursday 12 October.

Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.

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