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The-FriaryThe Friary Guildford, the town’s biggest shopping centre, has announced its support for Surrey Hills’ CowParade by sponsoring its very own cow.

CowParade, the world’s largest public art event, comes to Surrey this summer with brightly-coloured cows set to decorate the hills, farms, towns, schools and popular landmarks across the county.

The Friary Guildford has named Thomas Duncan Bell, owner of a fashion and clothing business, as the artist for the project. Thomas benefits from having strong connections within Surrey and Guildford and will be adopting Oakleaf as the chosen charity. Thomas is currently working with the graphic design and fashion students from Farnborough College of Technology to create inspired designs for what The Friary Guildford say will be an “extremely well dressed show stopping cow”.

Suffering from a bi-polar disorder himself, Thomas is also a mental health ambassador for Oakleaf who are based in Guildford and offer much needed vocational training for people with severe mental health conditions. The charity deliver training and work experience in upholstery, horticulture and IT, enabling clients to gain new skills, as a first step on their return to the workplace.

Thomas Duncan Bell comments; “All the staff at Team Tops are really pleased to be chosen by the Friary Centre as their artist of choice! Working with the Farnborough College of Technology we’re hoping to help the graphics and design students, in putting our Cow together and creating a unique, fashion savvy look that will appeal to all. It’s important to bring a touch of the social to these types of events and in working with students to generate funds for our local mental health charity Oakleaf Enterprise, we feel that we’re putting an individual spin on community through this exciting, stand-alone initiative, the Surrey Hills Cow Parade!”

Over the last three years, Oakleaf has also delivered a programme of social inclusion activities (ranging from literacy and numeracy sessions, to guitar lessons, meal nights and a Greenhouse Growing Group). Alongside its counselling services and job seeking support, these activities have all benefited hundreds of local people.

PrintJohn McNamara, Partnership & Development Manager for Oakleaf Enterprise comments;

“We are excited to be partnering with The Friary Guildford and Thomas Duncan Bell on such a high profile initiative. Hopefully the well-dressed cow will be a highly visible landmark in Guildford, raising awareness of the work Oakleaf does in supporting local people with mental ill-health.”

Oakleaf has been confirmed as the base for the new Safe Haven Cafe in Guildford opening in April. The service will offer a safe, calm and friendly welcome for people and carers in need of emotional and mental support providing an invaluable safe haven to sufferers in Guildford.

Tim Metson, Cow Parade Leader, said: “We’re delighted that The Friary Guildford is supporting this unique initiative. As it is located in the heart of the town alongside the city’s famous High Street, it is the perfect spot to showcase a cow. With over fifty stores spread out across three floors and open seven days a week there is no excuse not to pop in and visit The Friary Guildford’s own cow.”

CowParade Organisers are encouraging individuals, companies, schools and other organisations to sponsor a life-sized cow, with the option to decorate it themselves or source an artist. The cows will then be displayed around the county before being herded to the inaugural Surrey Hills Food, Drink and Music Festival on September 3. The pick of the herd will go to auction at a gala ceremony in London later in the year.

Proceeds will be shared equally between the Surrey Hills Trust Fund, established in partnership with the Community Foundation for Surrey to conserve and protect Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which supports local community projects and enterprise schemes, and the individual charities selected by the cow sponsors.

Tim added: “Surrey Hills CowParade 2016 gives sponsors the chance to connect with millions of people as the cows will feature on a specially designed APP where their GPS location can be tracked and members of the public will be able to ‘check in’ to find out more information about the sponsor and charity. It therefore offers a huge, unique PR and marketing opportunity that should generate international interest. The trick will be to create a cow that will raise lots of money at auction!”

CowParade was born in Switzerland in 1998 and has been staged in more than 80 cities and towns worldwide. Over the years 3,000 cows have been decorated by more than 5,000 artists. CowParade New York had 450 cows and was seen worldwide by 45 million people. The highest-grossing cow was created by designer John Rocha for CowParade Dublin in 2003 – studded with thousands of pieces of Waterford Crystal it was auctioned for $146,000

For more information on how to take part call the Surrey Hills CowParade team on 01483 661150 or visit: www.surreyhillscowparade.com.