Portraits of Pooh

Budding young artists from primary schools around Ashdown Forest have taken part in a competition to win tickets to see the new Disney Winnie the Pooh live show. Ashdown Park Hotel joined forces with the Ashdown Forest to invite children from 8 schools to create a portrait of Winnie the Pooh in any natural setting.

The winner was ten-year-old Eloise Child from Nutley CE Primary School. Eloise’s picture imagined Pooh in a woodland setting complete with flowers, insects and toadstools. The judges admired the amount of wildlife Eloise included in her picture with butterflies, dragonflies, fungi and wildflowers surrounding a smiling Pooh. Eloise captured the true essence of the natural world Pooh lives in and many of the species that make Ashdown Forest their home.

Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, Sales & Marketing Manager Tina Bricknell said: 

“We were truly amazed by the children’s remarkable dedication to this marvellous competition.  It is that our community harbours a profound affection for Winnie the Pooh and Ashdown Forest. Judging day presented its fair share of challenges, but undoubtedly, it was an absolute pleasure. We would like to thank all the schools who got involved with the competition.” 

Ashdown Forest Countryside Manager Ash Walmsley said: 

“We were very impressed with the standard of artwork. The young artists gave the judges a very tough job. It was wonderful to see how Winnie the Pooh fired the imagination of the children and how the Forest inspired so many of the settings they created. Winnie the Pooh and his friends can play a vital in reconnecting people, of every age, to this very special landscape.” 

Eloise won tickets for her and her family to attend the live show at the Theatre Royal in Brighton and a special tea at the Ashdown Forest Park Hotel.

She, along with 19 other children, won copies of the Winne-the-Pooh prequel “Once There Was A Bear” by Jane Riordan and published by Farshore for their efforts and their portraits will be displayed in a special exhibition at the Forest Centre.

In the Forest last March, The Winnie the Pooh live show had its UK press launch where cast members visited Pooh Bridge and other landscape treasures associated with the A.A Milne and E.H Shepard books. Since then, the show which features life size puppetry of the beloved characters, including Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore, has been on tour across the UK.

Ash added “In October 2026 we will be marking 100 years since the publication of the original Pooh stories and the little bear’s arrival at the Hundred Acre Wood. We are already working with a number of organisations including Disney to explore what the centenary could look like. Children will be central to the celebrations and our art competition has demonstrated how Winnie-the-Pooh still has the power to connect visitors from around the world to Ashdown Forest, its natural beauty and our need to care for the Forest.”