The Big Hare Trail Launch

With some of the hares are (from left): Diane Jennings, Simpson & Marwick; Morag Myers, Charles River; Mark Bevan, Leuchie House; Nathan Teague, MNM Developments; and Tim Wood, McInroy & Wood

PROUD charity leaders are marking a decade of success by creating a remarkable tourism trail for East Lothian – featuring 6ft high statues of hares to be painted by local artists.

The Big Hare Trail in and around North Berwick will feature 10 of the colourful sculptures, each individually decorated in a unique style. It is being delivered by the same experts who worked on similar successful projects across Scotland, including the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail.

It is being created as a thank you to the community by Leuchie House, Scotland’s only dedicated respite centre for people living with a range of life-limiting neurological conditions. It was at the centre of a local “Save Leuchie” campaign which enabled it to become an independent charity in 2011.

Already the project has attracted the support of renowned legal firm Simpson & Marwick, which has an office in North Berwick and which has proudly agreed to become the main business partner, with other prominent businesses also backing it.

Mark Bevan, CEO of the charity, explained how Leuchie House faced closure in 2010 until it was saved by the high-profile campaign. That not only secured its future, but allowed it to expand the respite services it offers to people with a wider range of conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone Disease and Cerebral Palsy. 

Mr Bevan added: “During the ‘Save Leuchie’ campaign, the local community came together to ensure Leuchie could continue to provide essential respite breaks for people from across Scotland and their families living with the long-term effects of a neurological condition. 

“This fantastic public art event is our way of saying thank you, while involving local schools and increasing visitor footfall to local business, as well as shouting from the rooftops that at Leuchie we are ‘Hare to Stay’.

“We are grateful to our Presenting Partners, Simpson & Marwick and initial Hare Sponsors MNM Developments, McInroy & Wood and Charles River, all of whom have hopped on board to support us.”

Rob Aberdein, Managing Partner of renowned legal firm Simpson & Marwick, said, “I’m based in East Lothian with my young family and our firm has an office in North Berwick, so I know only too well what a wonderful place it is to live, work and visit.

“That’s why we are so proud to be the Presenting Partner for The Big Hare Trail. This event will reinforce East Lothian’s identity as a vibrant centre of art and culture and showcase it to the widest possible audience.”

To kick off the 10th anniversary celebration, Leuchie House will launch an open invitation for artists to help bring the sculptures – and the event – to life. The charity is also seeking further business sponsors to each “adopt” one of the hares.

Local artists are expected to jump at the chance to participate, with members of the local art community being urged to submit their designs before April 5, for the chance to win a £900 commission and work alongside a commercial sponsor. 

The completed statues will eventually be placed in high-profile locations in and around North Berwick, creating a trail to follow for 10 weeks during the summer. The colourful animals are expected to bring families, visitors and day-trippers flooding into East Lothian.

Designers will ensure the varied and informative trail can be completed in a day by families with children of any age. Organisers want it to be a free, fun, family-friendly trail of discovery for tourists and locals alike to explore and enjoy. 

Leuchie is working with leading creative producers, Wild in Art, to bring The Big Hare Trail to North Berwick. Since 2008 Wild in Art has been inspiring, educating and entertaining towns and cities across the UK and the world with its award-winning trails of uniquely painted sculptures – including penguins in Dundee, dolphins in Aberdeen, the Oor Wullies across Scotland – and now Hares in East Lothian.

Hares were chosen as one of the most popular and high-profile animals native to East Lothian. The legacy of The Big Hare Trail will continue after the summer as each of the sculptures is auctioned in the autumn to raise vital funds for Leuchie House.