Giant fibreglass hares in East Lothian will mark tenth anniversary of independent charity
Six-foot tall fibreglass sculptures of hares will be springing up in and around North Berwick from next weekend, each one individually decorated in unique artistic style.
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People will be invited to follow a map to find the colourful sculptures, which will be in place from Saturday.
The Big Hare Trail, which runs for ten weeks, is intended to help the community recover following lockdown and raise much-needed funds for Leuchie House respite centre, a national charity based in North Berwick which supports people living with range of neurological conditions such as MS, MND, Parkinson’s and stroke through dedicated short breaks and other services.
Wild in Art, the creative producers behind the trail, have worked on similar projects across Scotland, including the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail.
And among those who have decorated the ten colourful sculptures are mural artist Chris Rutterford, award-winning children’s author and illustrator Catherine Rayner and Emily Hogarth, the artist who designed the new Edinburgh Children’s Hospital “pod” play area.
Mr Rutterford has decorated his hare in classic hickory golf outfit – clothes just like ones he used to wear soon after taking up golf.“I always think if you can’t play golf, look golf,” he said. “I was always rubbish and scruffy, so whenever I went to the golf club there were always complaints – you can’t wear this, you can’t wear that – so I thought right I’m going to go full bore and wear hickory clothes – I’ve got three pairs of plus-fours and flat caps and all the rest. There were no more complaints and it was better fun for it.”
Organisers say they chose hares for the trail because they are one of the most popular and high-profile animals native to East Lothian.
The free, fun, family-friendly event – aimed at tourists and locals alike – marks the tenth anniversary of Leuchie House as an independent charity and once the trail closes in September the sculptures will be auctioned to raise vital funds to continue its work.
The charity became independent in 2011 following the high-profile Save Leuchie campaign after it was threatened with closure. The then manager Mairi O'Keefe spearheaded the effort which brought the community together to ensure the centre could continue to provide essential respite breaks for people from across Scotland and their families living with long-term conditions. Ms O’Keefe was awarded an MBE in 2015 in recognition of her work.
Leuchie House chief executive Mark Bevan said: “After the immense challenges we have all faced over the last year, this fantastic public art event is our way of saying thank you to the community and those who have supported Leuchie. We are proud to shout from the rooftops that at Leuchie we are ‘Hare to Stay’ following this challenging period and encourage families to come and enjoy a day out in North Berwick by exploring The Big Hare Trail.”
And VisitScotland regional director Neil Christison welcomed the trail’s launch. “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry in Scotland. The trail will be a fantastic addition to the tourism offering in the region, as well as raising awareness and money for a great cause.”
More details of the Big Hare Trail can be found on the event’s website https://thebigharetrail.co.uk/