COLOURFUL hares will be popping up across Winchester and Southampton this summer for a good cause.

The public art trail will raise funds for children’s hospital care and will see thousands of families follow the Hares of Hampshire walking trail in Winchester and Southampton.

The route will feature 30 six-foot-tall sculpted hares painted by artists, including many from Hampshire, and reflecting a variety of themes. It begins in June and lasts for 10 weeks until the end of August.

The aim of the trail is to raise money for new scanning equipment at the paediatric intensive care unit of Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Hampshire Chronicle: HARE APPARENT: Sarah Parish, left, and Michaela Johns, HWB Director, view one of the Hares of Hampshire ahead of this summer’s family-friendly art trail in Winchester and Southampton.

Sarah Parish and James Murray, co-founders of trail organisers the Murray Parish Trust, said the trail had been made possible thanks to sponsorship from businesses such as Chandlers Ford based accountants HWB.

Sarah said: “Hares of Hampshire will be one of the biggest interactive public art trails that Southampton and Winchester have ever seen.

“We couldn’t hold such a huge, family-friendly initiative without the support of companies such as HWB. Their help is incredibly important.”

After viewing some of the early designs of the hares, HWB director Michaela Johns said: “This trail promises to be a lot of fun for children and families. The designs are beautiful, decorative and colourful, and the hares will become landmarks and talking points.

“We already support the Murray Parish Trust, which was our charity of the year in 2018, and everyone in our team is thrilled to be on board with Hares of Hampshire.

“Aside from being part of a fun, summer initiative, many of us are parents and so naturally we’re keen to support the Trust’s fantastic work on behalf of paediatric care in Southampton.

“With all the business sponsorship of the trail, and the auctioning of the hares at the end of the summer, hopefully Hares of Hampshire will raise a substantial sum towards new intensive care facilities relied on by hundreds of children and their families across the region.”

Husband and wife actors James and Sarah lost their first child Ella-Jayne, born premature, to a congenital heart defect in 2009.

The experience prompted them to co-found the Murray Parish Trust as a charity dedicated to the advancement of paediatric emergency medicine across the south of England.

The trust has so far raised more than £5m.