The Big Hoot & Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Angela Ashford, Big Hoot for St Elizabeth Hospice

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is proud to be supporting St Elizabeth Hospice as part of Ipswich’s third giant art trail – with The Big Hoot now live in the town! 

The Big Hoot has seen 40 giant owl sculptures, plus a number of smaller ‘Little Hoot’ owls designed by school children and community groups, displayed right across Ipswich town centre to help raise vital funds and awareness for St Elizabeth Hospice, the main hospice serving the East Suffolk area where our head office is based. 

About our Big Hoot!

We are so proud to introduce you to our Hoot ‘Owl Hands on Deck’, designed by Fred. Olsen guest Barbara Wade. Barbara’s design was chosen as the winner following a competition on our social media pages – receiving over 270 votes!  

You will find our Hoot standing proudly on Ipswich Waterfront as a real celebration of cruise, featuring some destinations near and far and some of the experiences we know and love about sailing, from sunsets at sea to deck quoits on board. If you look closely, you’ll spot lots of marine wildlife, from dolphins to puffins, that we know our guests love spotting on board with us too.  

Our Hoot was painted by talented local Suffolk artist Angela Ashford, who added her own personal touches as she brought the design to life.  

We'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made a donation in support of St Elizabeth Hospice so far. Every penny really does count for this amazing cause. We raised over £15,000 for the cause as part of Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk, and we are determined to beat that this time! If you'd like to support us on our mission and donate and support the hospice, please click here. 

The Big Hoot
St Elizabeth Hospice cheque giving

Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk

In 2019, we were the proud sponsors of Elmer’s Travel Trunk. We had lots of fun, from taking part in the trail, to team days in the office to events on board our ships, and together our team and our guests raised more than £15,000 for the cause.

Travel Trunk sailed to South America aboard our ship Balmoral in January 2020, and is now spending time with our friends at Fred. Olsen Travel on a tour of their Suffolk branches.

Meet the artist – Angela Ashford

Owl Hands on Deck was painted by Suffolk artist Angela Ashford. Angela, who owns Ashford Studios, works from a custom-built studio in her garden in Trimley St Mary.  

Angela Ashford

How did you enjoy creating Travel Trunk, and seeing the design come to life?
I had so much fun coming up with the design for Elmer's Travel Trunk. In the world of make believe anything is possible, and I was so delighted to have my design selected by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines so that I could really bring it to life. I thoroughly enjoyed painting him and it was such a delight to bring him and his teddy to life.

How long did it take you to paint Travel Trunk, and what was the most difficult part?
From start to finish, it took me a very enjoyable eight weeks to paint. The most difficult part was getting to grips with air brushing, which was something I hadn't done before. But it was so worth it to get the leather of his travel trunk looking just right.

What is your favourite part?
My favourite part of Travel Trunk are the small details, such as where the stitching is coming undone at the top of his trunk, and the pocket with his teddy and puzzle book in.

Can you tell us a bit about you career as an artist?
Over the years I have worked in many styles and mediums - you could call me an all-round artist. I have painted large murals in churches, portraits, cartoons, spiritual art (these are paintings that are based in biblical truths), and more recently have created ‘peep boards’ and hot off the press ‘paint parties’.

Art has always been my passion. I especially love the attention to detail that it requires. I work in my studio. From here I take portraits and other commissions.

Do you live and work locally?
I have always been a Suffolk girl at heart and am so pleased to be living back here after many years living in various places around the world. I have been living in Trimley St Mary for the last 16 years and since I have settled back here I have started my own business called The Ashford Studio. 

What was your inspiration behind the Travel Trunk design?
The idea for my Elmer came when I was thinking about word play on the word ‘trunk’. I thought, if ‘Nelly the Elephant’ can pack her trunk so can Elmer! The only difference is that Elmer is wearing his trunk, so I made sure I gave him pockets and things to put all of his essentials in for his travels.

How did you come to be involved in Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk?
It was my father who told me about Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk. He is 93 now, and attends St Elizabeth Hospice’s day centre once a month. He and my mother often fundraise for the hospice, mum through her knitting and, when he was 90, dad abseiled down the maternity block at Ipswich Hospital!

My parents started fundraising just over 30 years ago when, in 1985, my sister died at the age of 33 of breast cancer. At the time Ipswich didn't have a hospice and Jenny died in an old Victorian hospital.

How have you enjoyed working with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines on this important campaign?
I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Fred. Olsen on this exciting project, and bringing our Elmer to life. I can’t wait to see Travel Trunk in pride of place on Ipswich Waterfront over the summer!