Cirencester hare statue meets famous celebrities Clare Balding and Ant and Dec during a tour of the UK

First published in News Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

A CIRENCESTER hare statue has been mingling with the stars as it tours the UK to raise awareness of the town's hare festival.

The Cirencester March Hare Festival has proved a huge hit with children and adults across the Cotswolds since its launch in March.

More than 40 five foot hare sculptures, all uniquely decorated and sponsored by various businesses, are dotted around the town.

Now one smaller hare, part of the Small Hare Trail, has ventured away from his home town to meet celebrities and sport stars, including Ant and Dec, Clare Balding and Alan Shearer.

The little white hare model, sponsored by Barrington Ayre Shirtmakers and Tailors, visited the Close House Hotel in Newcastle-on-Tyne with Barrington Ayre founder Tom Wharton.

The hotel is the home of the world's only Lee Westwood golf courses, and the professional golfer was there to sign the hare on the day.

Also visiting the hotel was Strictly star Anton Du Beke, supermodel Jodie Kidd, and football star Alan Shearer as well as others, who all signed the statue.

The small hare has been dubbed ‘Hare and Seek’ and will begin on June 27.

Smaller hares will be dotted around the town inside shops and a passport book will be available for children to get stamped when they meet each hare. When the book is complete it can be handed back in for the chance to win a prize.

Festival organiser Florence Beetlestone is keen that families get involved.

"This trail is perfect for the school holidays and will add to the success we have had with the larger hares," she said. "We have had great feedback so far on the hares and the work put in by the artists and sponsors."

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