Welephant is used by almost every Fire Brigade in the U.K. to teach young children about the dangers of playing with fire.
In 1978 Greater Manchester Fire Service decided to run a competition in the schools of Greater Manchester. They were asked to draw something that could be used as a mascot.
A 14 year old girl won the competition by drawing a large red elephant wearing a fireman's helmet, a belt with a fireaxe and black wellingtons. She called him Welephant. Welephant was officially adopted by Greater Manchester and was used in various fire safety campaigns. The children in Greater Manchester started to know about Welephant.
In 1984 Greater Manchester County Fire Service decided to launch a Welephant Club for children and received 250,00 requests to join in one month! The Club continued to grow and in 1985 eighteen other Fire Brigades had also asked if they could use Welephant. Permission was given and in 1985 Welephant went National. The Welephant Charity was established with the aim of educating children in fire safety and easing the distress of burns victims. A donation of £25,000 from the National Westminster Bank got the Charity off to a good start. Since then hospital equipment has been purchased to help in Children's Burns Units throughout the U.K. Various individual children have had specialised equipment bought for them when they have been seriously ill. Fire Brigades take Welephant to primary schools to help teach the children between the ages of about four years to eleven years the dangers from playing with fire.
Major organisations use the logo for product endorsement and pay a licence fee but we mainly rely on donations from the public to keep the Charity operating. Some Fire Brigades have 'Open Days' and send us a donation if Welephant attends. We sell Welephant goods to Fire Brigades and any profit goes to the Charity.
The running costs of the Charity are kept to bare minimum. Paid staff comprise three part time workers, who make great efforts to recycle and 'scrounge' as much as we can, so that as much money as possible is used for charitable purposes. Our office is a unit in a Business Centre. The Chairman, Mr. Graham, is the driving force and is unpaid.
In 1996 the name of the Charity was changed from the Welephant Club incorporated to The National Fire Safety Charity for Children. The use of the word National when used in a Charity is considered to imply prestige and status and is subject to control by regulations. The use is only approved by the Secretary of State where a Charity demonstrates pre-eminence in the sphere of activity suggested by the name. Following examination of Welephant's charitable activities since establishment as a registered charity in 1985, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry approved the change of name.
Whenever you see Welephant you know he will be raising funds for the National Fire Safety Charity for Children.