A popular public art trail attracted thousands of visitors – and proved just the tonic for one man to change his life.
The Great North Snowdogs saw tens of thousands of people visit the 61 sculptures across the region.
And the trail, which ended on November 20, helped prove the incentive needed for David Birdsey to leave his Cullercoats home.
Following the deaths of his brother and father, plus disability and redundancy, the 44-year-old had become a virtual recluse.
He said: “I’ve loved the Raymond Briggs stories since I was young and when I first heard about Great North Snowdogs I was determined to see just one of the sculptures if I could.
“When the trail opened I took a taxi on my own – which was a very hard, very big deal for me – to the Blue Reef Aquarium at Tynemouth to see Dogfish and when I got there I just cried, I was so overwhelmed.
“I sat for a while and watched people come and go. I even chatted to some people and for the first time in a very long time I felt part of something.”
Since then David, who suffers from spinal degeneration, has seen 60 of the sculptures.
He said: “It’s given me a reason to get up and about.
“I’ve really pushed myself to my absolute limits doing this. I’m trying to overcome a lot of health problems and it’s been a real struggle at times, but I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Great North Snowdogs is raising funds for the children’s service at St Oswald’s Hospice.
People will get one last chance to see all 61 Snowdogs at a ‘Farewell Event’, at Gateshead Stadium, from December 2 and 4.
The dogs will then be auctioned on Tuesday, December 6, to raise funds for the hospice.
Tickets for the Farewell Event cost £3 each – subject to VAT and booking fees – and can be booked at www.greatnorthsnowdogs.co.uk/farewell-tickets