In 2015, hordes of Gromits were spotted in Bristol as part of the Bristol Children’s Hospital’s Grand Appeal. They raised money for the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and St Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Special Care Baby Unit).
Now it’s the turn of the people of the Cotswolds to expect something unusual in their towns and villages. This time, there are hares; lots of hares. The Cotswold Hare Trial is a trail of public art sculptures of over 80 five-foot high hares, decorated by professional, amateur and community group artists.
Aimed at raising public awareness for creativity in the everyday world, the sculptures are strategically placed across 28 towns and villages throughout the Cotswolds for six months.
The Cotswold Hare initiative has been warmly embraced by local businesses and community organisations. It has created an accessible open-air art gallery in the region. The Cotswolds covers almost 800 square miles and runs through the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
Not only is the art visually accessible, but the hares can be touched and people are encouraged to handle and engage with the art. According to the organisers of the March Hare Trail, “the hares are designed to promote an emotional response with people expressing a wide range of positive reactions. Their engagement is often felt moving many to tears and enabling people to connect to the pieces through their feelings.”
Children in particular are enjoying the hares. Some of the hares have been designed and decorated by school children from nursery age to the students in higher education. At the end of the festival, an auction of the sculptures will be held, with art auctions houses and art galleries across the UK and abroad following its progress.
“This enables us to put back money into the community which has supported us. This year National Star and local museums being the beneficiaries of our net profits. The Festival retains its not-for-profit status returning any monies raised back into the project,” comment the organisers.
For inns, pubs and restaurants around the area, the festival is a welcome tourist attraction, enticing visitors from far and wide. It offers the opportunity for many establishments whom AC Services supports such as the Inn at Fossebridge and the Crown of Crucis in Cirencester as well as the Egypt Mill in Nailsworth to open their doors to those on the trail of hares.
Both Royal Oak, Tetbury and Old Bell, Malmesbury are sponsoring hares. We hope they have as much fun as we did when we sponsored our Gromit. Without the sponsors there would be no trail and a lot less fun to be had by all.
Finding a route
One of our team has already started to work out a route to tick off a number of our customers and hares. He starts at the Sixteen Restaurant & Café, Witney, then to the Angel Inn, Burford before heading north to Stow on the Wold (No 4 @ Stow) and Broadway’s Dormy House Hotel and Russells.
Then a little west to Winchcombe (the Lion Inn) before the spa splendour of Cheltenham’s Daffodil and Wild Beer Co. South to Stroud (Bisley House Café) before arriving in the Capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester. Its 20 hares would account for a day themselves. His route ends in Tetbury’s Priory Inn!
Thankfully our engineers don’t usually cover so many clients in one trip. And it would be silly not to spend some time with each hare on the way and visit their sponsors.
“Events such as the Cotswold Hare are welcomed by our Cotswold customers as visitors can see for themselves the beauty and hospitality of the Cotswold communities from hamlets to cities,” comments Helen Hagger of AC Services (Southern). The festival runs until September with the auction taking place in October.