Oh help! Oh no! It's a Gruffalo!

Five-year-old Chloe Lawson, from Kielder First School, gives a new giant Gruffalo sculpture a clean before its unveiling in Kielder Water & Forest Park. Picture by Neil Denham
Five-year-old Chloe Lawson, from Kielder First School, gives a new giant Gruffalo sculpture a clean before its unveiling in Kielder Water & Forest Park. Picture by Neil Denham

Youngsters have given a new Gruffalo sculpture a clean ahead of its unveiling in a Northumberland forest.

Big fans of the famous picture-book character, Chloe Lawson, five, and her classmates from Kielder First School were given the task of sprucing up a sculpture of the terrible beast before its unveiling in Kielder Water and Forest Park.

Carved from timber, the saw-toothed figure is set to be a massive hit with youngsters in the 155,000-acre wilderness and has been joined by a smaller Gruffalo's Child, both fashioned by a chainsaw sculptor. Forest chiefs also hope the mythical creatures will increase children's appreciation of the real thing.

Alex MacLennan, recreation and public affairs manager at the Forestry Commission, said: "The Gruffalo has become a publishing sensation with over 14 million books being sold worldwide, but Kielder Water and Forest Park is surely its spiritual home. All the animals featured in the charming tale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler occur here like nowhere else, from red squirrels to owls. It's a great way of teaching kids the importance of our forests."

Illustrator Axel Scheffler visited the forest to help raise funds for red-squirrel conservation and the Gruffalo's enduring appeal is so great that teachers at Kielder First School often dress up as the iconic creature.

Alex added: "The sculptures have taken up residence along the three-quarter-mile, easy-going Stick Man Trail, starting from 18th-century Kielder Castle and snaking its way through an enchanted forest landscape. Kids absolutely adore the characters."

A colourful Stick Man activity pack is available from Kielder Castle, costing £3, and if you complete the Stick Man Trail, you can sign up for a certificate at www.forestry.gov.uk/stickman