OPINION: Big Hoot owls look set to continue trail success

The Big Hoot launches in Ipswich with the Hoot Hike around the town to visit all the owl statues.

There is a 5km trail to follow to visit all the owls in the Big Hoot in Ipswich this summer - Credit: Sonya Duncan

It has been great to see St Elizabeth Hospice bring their latest animal trail to Ipswich.

The Big Hoot Trail follows on from the very successful Pigs Gone Wild and Elmer’s Big Parade trails which raised nearly half a million pounds between them for the hospice.

This summer’s owls look set to add to that success.

The Big Hoot launches in Ipswich with the Hoot Hike around the town to visit all the owl statues.

The Big Hoot features an array of colourful creations around Ipswich - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Ever since the launch in June, it has been a common sight to see people going round the town centre peering at their map or phone as they search out the location of the next owl.

The main trail consists of fifty large owls dotted around the town. As usual, they combine fantastic artwork with, often, a fun play on words for their name.

In terms of puns, I think my favourites are “Hoot-an-Khamun” and “Hawaii Five-Owl”. Regarding design, I may be biased, but I think the Ipswich Borough Council sponsored “Nocturne” – located at the Town Hall – is simply stunning.

The Big Hoot launches in Ipswich with the Hoot Hike around the town to visit all the owl statues.

The Big Hoot launches in Ipswich with the Hoot Hike around the town to visit all the owl statues. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

There are also 65 Little Hoots created by schools and community groups across Suffolk as part of a community and education programme. These are displayed in shop windows of independent businesses across Ipswich.

Most Read

I am very proud of the help Ipswich Borough Council has given St Elizabeth Hospice to put on the trail.

As previously mentioned, the Council along with many other organisations and businesses in the town are sponsors of the trail. We have also provided many of the locations for the Big Hoots such as the Town Hall, Museum and Mansion and Christchurch and Holywells parks.

We have also provided the space for the Hoot HQ – where maps and owl related merchandise can be purchased – in the former café in the Town Hall and I’m pleased that we have just been able to announce that St Elizabeth Hospice will be opening a permanent coffee shop in the Town Hall after the trail has finished.

The Big Hoot launches in Ipswich with the Hoot Hike around the town to visit all the owl statues. Pc

Pictured is Celia Joseph, community relations fundraising manager at St Elizabeth's Hospice with one of the Big Hoot statues. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The Grand Hall in the Corn Exchange is the location of the “Farewell Event” on 10th and 11th September with one last opportunity to see all the Big and Little Hoots gathered in one place.

The final event of the trail will be when the owls are auctioned off and this will be at the Corn Exchange, on 15th September.

This year we have also used money the council received to help the town centre recover from Covid to sponsor forty of the Little Hoots and locate them in independent retailers in the town centre.

We are also running a competition based on unscrambling letters on the Little Hoots to encourage people to visit them all.

We provide so much support for the trails not just because the hospice is a great cause but because there are lots of other spin off benefits for the town as well.

The trail brings many more people into the town centre and some of them will spend money at shops, cafes or restaurants. In particular, our sponsorship of the Little Hoots will draw extra footfall to many of our great independent retailers.

Finding reasonably priced things for the kids to do over the long summer holidays is always a worry and even more so given the current Cost of Living Crisis.

A Big Hoot Trail map can be purchased for a suggested £1 donation, or the app downloaded for just £1.99, and provides hours of otherwise free activity.

It is also good exercise and you’ll clock up a lot of steps if you visit all the owls. The trails have been used as the basis for organised walks and runs and are being promoted by Keep Moving Suffolk.

If you haven’t seen all the owls yet, there’s still plenty of time – they will be out until 3rd September.

Full details are available online at: thebighoot.co.uk