Penguin tribute to much-loved Worcestershire school governor

Date published: 4 June 2024

School staff paint a small penguin sculpture

A sculpture in this summer’s public art trail around Worcester will serve as a tribute to a much-loved school governor who loved butterflies.

The great Waddle of Worcester will feature a penguin chick which celebrates the life of Jill Wheeler from Droitwich Spa, whose family say would have been thrilled to see her third art trail in the city. A governor of St Peter’s Droitwich C of E Academy for more than 21 years, Mrs Wheeler was cared for by St Richard’s Hospice, the charity beneficiary of the art trail, before she died in May 2023.

“Mum loved completing charity sculpture trails around the country with family and friends so sponsoring a miniature penguin painted by the children at St Peter’s in Droitwich feels like the perfect way to honour her memory,” said daughter Nikki Wheeler.

“It’s also a fitting way to say thank you to St Richard’s for the care and compassion they showed Mum in her last few days. We’re so very grateful for everything the team did for Mum and for Mum’s niece, Alex, who was also cared for by the hospice.”

Caroline Sims, Assistant Head Teacher at St Peter’s Droitwich C of E Academy, said: “Jill was such a special governor to all of us here at St Peter’s and we feel very privileged to paint a sculpture to reflect that.  Jill’s favourite creature was a butterfly so ‘Flutterhigh’ is covered in beautiful butterflies drawn on by every child and staff member in the school.

“Jill very much lived our belief that each child is special and unique, like a butterfly in the wind.  We’re all really looking forward to seeing our tribute on display in Worcester and to bringing the sculpture back to school as its forever home.”

A Wild in Art event, being brought to the city by St Richard’s Hospice, penguins will waddle into Worcester on 22 July and will depart again on 15 September. The project builds on hugely successful giraffe and elephant trails in 2018 and 2021 which, combined, raised more than £700,000 for the Worcestershire hospice after costs.

Sara Matthews, Business Development Manager for St Richard’s, said: “This summer’s art trail is our way of saying thank you to our incredible supporters across Worcestershire by helping them create lasting memories.  Of course, it’s also an opportunity to fundraise for the hospice’s future and the care that we provide to patients like Jill and their loved ones.

“When we heard about Jill’s love of art trails, and the role she’d played to inspire young people at St Peter’s in Droitwich, it felt like there was no better tribute to such a special lady who left a big impression on so many. We’re grateful to Jill’s husband, Paul, and daughter, Nikki, for supporting our care by sponsoring a mini penguin.

“With around 80% of our funding coming from our incredible supporters, we couldn’t do what we do without such wonderful support across the county.”

The great Waddle of Worcester is supported by Presenting Partners; Crowngate, DRPG, Worcester City Council and Worcestershire Ambassadors, Community and Education Partner; Worcester BID and Media Partners; the Worcester News and BBC Hereford & Worcester.

You can follow the great Waddle of Worcester at:, and

While all 40 large penguins have now been snapped up, some sponsorship opportunities remain. To play a part in the great Waddle of Worcester call Sara Matthews, Business Development Manager, on 01905 763963, or email [email protected]


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To discuss sponsorship opportunities, call Sara Matthews, Business Development Manager, on 01905 763963, or email [email protected]

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