Yorkshire’s toads in line for top tourist prize warts and all

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THE biggest public arts project staged in Hull, Larkin with Toads, is set to hop off with a national tourism award.

The scheme, which saw 40 fibreglass toads placed around the city as part of a series of events to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of poet Philip Larkin, has been shortlisted in the Best Tourism Event of the Year category at the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2012.

That means it is guaranteed to receive a gold, silver, bronze or highly commended award at the ceremony on May 22.

Last year it won Tourism Event of the Year at the White Rose awards, and the “remarkable experience” category in the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards.

Rick Welton, vice-chairman of Larkin25 programme and initiator of the project, said: “Larkin with Toads surprised and then excited the public who took them to their hearts, and the Toads succeeded in introducing the poetry of Philip Larkin to thousands of people. It’s wonderful to get this national recognition.”

The one-metre high toads each had their own name, sponsor and identity and were released into the urban jungle in July, 2010.

Residents and visitors took them to their hearts, which was demonstrated by the anger expressed when several were damaged by vandals within days of taking up their positions.

The toads, which generated about £500,000 for the local economy, were auctioned off after 10 weeks for charity.

The toads raised £50,000 for good causes and the launch of an annual grant scheme for arts projects in the East Riding.

More than 120,000 people visited Hull to see the toads.