Sir Paul Beresford, Chris Grayling, Philip Hammond, Jonathan Lord, Anne Milton and Dominic Raab, joined members of the CowParade team at the House of Commons on Wednesday, March 9 to pledge their support to the initiative to promote the Surrey Hills as a national asset for the benefit of local businesses, enhancing the community and conserving the area’s unique heritage.
Over the summer months brightly-coloured cows will decorate the hills, farms, towns, schools and popular landmarks across the county. Organisers are currently encouraging individuals, companies, schools and other organisations to sponsor a life-sized cow and either decorate it themselves or bring in an artist to do it.
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. Those judged the pick of the herd will go to auction at a gala ceremony in London later in the year.
Despite heavy rain the MPs posed in the grounds of the House of Commons with Surrey Hills’ own ‘Mirror Moo’ and ‘Pilgrim’ – a cow painted by GCSE art students at Kings College Guildford who collaborated with Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in a project coordinated by local visual artist Becci Kenning.
Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, said: “Cow Parade is a brilliant initiative to bring together local businesses and artists in support of Surrey Hills, the trust which looks after our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as other local charities. I hope that our communities and businesses will support the project, and I’m looking forward to seeing the cows when they arrive in May.”
Jonathan Lord, MP for Woking, said: “It’s a fantastic idea that will raise the profile of Surrey, raise the profile of the Surrey Hills and raise money, not only for Surrey Hills but for charities that businesses and generous individuals want to help. I understand it is going around the schools as well with their own mini-moos too – all in all it is an innovative, fun scheme and I hope that everyone gets behind it.”
Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, said: “It’s a great and hilarious initiative. It’s great, great fun and I just hope it captures the imagination of the Surrey people. I understand they have many calves to take to the schools to engage with the children, and I hope this will also lead to schools taking children to farms to meet real cows to educate children about farming and where things like milk come from.”
Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell, commented: “CowParade is a great idea, it’s a different way of promoting Surrey and will certainly liven up the landscape. I hope people will support it and come and see the cows in the hills.”
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, MP for Runnymeade and Weybridge, said: “I hope that local schools in particular will take part and that businesses will sponsor the activity and make sure we raise lots of money for good causes.”
Anne Milton, MP for Guildford, said: “I am delighted that the CowParade is coming to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s great that this really innovative project will be brought right into the heart of our beautiful countryside. This is a great way to raise money for community projects that will help the Surrey Hills landscape to thrive. I hope to see many people, businesses and schools getting creative in sponsoring and decorating a cow!”
Tim Metson, CowParade Leader, said: “We’re delighted that the county’s MPs have given their backing to our novel promotional campaign to broaden awareness of Surrey Hills Enterprises’ work, which is aimed at bringing the beauty of the Surrey Hills to a larger audience. We hope that endorsement of the MPs will encourage individuals, businesses, schools and other organisations within the constituencies to support the CowParade.”
Proceeds from the auction of the painted cows will be shared equally between the Surrey Hills Trust Fund, established in partnership with the Community Foundation for Surrey to conserve and protect the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which supports local community projects that benefit and enhance the Surrey Hills landscape, and the individual charities selected by the cow sponsors.
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 – quite a lot of moo-lah indeed. For more information on how to take part call the Surrey Hills CowParade team on 01483 661150 or visit: www.surreyhillscowparade.com.