Shoppers swarm to green event at Newcastle’s Silverlink Shopping Park

Minibeasts, bugs and a giant African snail attracted swarms of families to a fun-filled sustainable event.

Children got their hands dirty as the two-day Big Green Leaf event at Newcastle’s Silverlink Shopping Park hit full swing.


Colourful characters including Bugella Burrows and Walter Droplet hosted a wide range of interactive sustainability and eco-friendly activities to encourage youngsters to help look after the environment.


From beneath a giant inflatable leaf canopy, Slimon the real giant African snail and his friend, Oozmelda the millipede were joined by other creepy crawlies in a bid to get kids more involved in looking after and learning about insects.

It was also a big day for North Tyneside-based creative recycling centre, House of Objects, who scooped the Big Green Leaf Community Award after shoppers used special tokens to vote for the local community group they felt most deserving of a £1,000 funding boost.


The money will support their chosen green project which involves dedicating a section of their website to families to encourage them to share ideas for creative projects using waste materials.

Another green community group who were in the running after showcasing their work at the event were The Wildlife Trust.

Chairman of North Tyneside Council, Tommy Mulvenna, Councillor Jeanette Pickard and MP Alan Campbell, were on hand to help launch Silverlink Shopping Park’s Big Green Leaf event which kicked off on Friday, along with Cllr Brian Burdis and Head of Business and Economic Development, Paul Buie.


And two-year-old Evie Richardson from Whitley Bay was among hundreds of children who got stuck in with the fun interactive activities.

Speaking from the event, her mum, Sarah said: “Evie’s been having a lovely time listening to stories and making a crown from recycled objects.

“She’s held a millipede, had her photograph taken and we’ve even been given a packet of sunflower seeds.

“We used our tokens to vote for House of Objects – a local creative recycling centre – as Evie had so much fun making crafts from recyclable items with them.

“We do recycle at home but the Big Green Leaf event has encouraged us to think more about the environment and has inspired me to come up with some ideas for what our everyday recyclable materials can be transformed into.”

During the weekend, youngsters made a splash while taking part in activities run by water lover and avid gardener, Walter Droplet.

A particular hit was the water butt challenge where children were transformed into clouds and tasked with the mission of “raining down into the H2O handling machine” until they gathered enough to water the garden and feed the insects.

Professional composter, Wormarie Compostulaire taught youngsters about food waste and recycling, and Litter Bug relived the moment he got his comeuppance for constantly dropping his rubbish on the floor.

Jo Francis, Head of Retail Property Management for the Regional Portfolio at The Crown Estate, which owns Silverlink Shopping Park, said the event has been a “huge success” and added: “Underneath the Big Green Leaf at Silverlink Shopping Park went down a storm and it was lovely to see so many families getting involved in all the fun-filled environmental activities.

“The characters and creepy crawlies were a big hit amongst the children who learned all about the environment and how we can all adopt a greener or more sustainable approach in our day to day living.

“It was also popular on social media with shoppers using #BigGreenLeaf on Twitter or posting free photographs of themselves with their favourite bugs on Facebook.”

She added: “Our congratulations go to House of Objects who deservedly won The Big Green Leaf Community Award with a £1,000 boost which will help them continue to achieve their green goals.

“Overall, the event was a huge success and we hope families can go away and enforce some of what they have learned about making the world more eco-friendly.”

Alan Campbell MP said: “The Crown Estate’s Underneath the Big Green Leaf at the Silverlink Shopping Park is a great example of how businesses can play an active role in the communities where they operate to encourage more sustainable lifestyles”.

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