Snowdogs unleashed in Ashford

This autumn a magical arts trail arrives in Ashford; celebrate the town’s best bits to support Pilgrims Hospices in providing local hospice care.

From 12 September the streets and open spaces of Ashford will become an enchanting trail of beautifully crafted, giant Snowdog sculptures. The local community will get involved, enjoy art in cultural spaces, be inspired and entertained and create unforgettable moments and memories.

35 individually designed and beautifully decorated Snowdog sculptures will be placed around the borough to create a world-class sculpture trail that will encourage everyone to discover Ashford.

Sparky is one of a collection of 1.5m tall, individually designed Snowdog sculptures. He’ll soon be joined by the pawfect pack of pups as part of this magical art trail celebrating Ashford life.

Cate Russell, Pilgrims Hospices Chief Executive, with Sparky and Snowy the snowpup


The trail will be on display for 10 weeks from 12 September 2018 to 18 November 2018, creating a festive feel in the lead up to Christmas. Visitors and locals will be able to see and celebrate some of Ashford’s best bits to support local hospice care.

Afterwards, each Snowdog sculpture will be auctioned in aid of Pilgrims Hospices to help raise funds for local hospice care.

Cllr Mike Bennett, Portfolio Holder for Culture, said: “This is an exciting arts project that we hope will engage and excite our residents and visitors. The Snowdog sculptures will also raise the borough’s profile, create civic pride and attract thousands of visitors to Ashford.”

Local, regional and well-known artists have brought the sculptures to life, giving them their own personality by creating a unique design for each beautifully decorated dog.

The trail will also be a chance to raise awareness about the services Pilgrims offers for local people coping with incurable illness, and their families and friends.

Cate Russell, Pilgrims Hospices Chief Executive, said: “Our work is as much about supporting people with incurable illness to live as it is about caring for them at end of life. The Snowdogs trail will be a wonderful celebration of Ashford life, so we are really pleased to be involved.”

To kick-start this exciting cultural adventure, a special sponsorship launch event took place on 19 October 2017 at Revelation Ashford. On 22 February 2018, an artist invitation event took place at County Square; a networking evening for local and regional artists to find out more about decorating the Snowdogs.

Working with schools

As part of this very special project Pilgrims Hospices have delivered a schools educational programme alongside the main arts trail. Kindly sponsored by Kingsford Solicitors, 19 schools are taking part in the puppy programme. The Education Programme puts creativity at its heart and is linked with the national curriculum for Key Stages 1-2; this creative project have seen school children decorating their pups during the summer term, alongside classroom activities.

Integral to the Snowpup decoration and main arts trail of giant Snowdogs, Pilgrims has delivered two specialist bereavement training sessions for teachers and support staff to enable educators to address issues surrounding bereavement in a sensitive and age appropriate way. This will give those educators supporting bereaved children a better understanding of the emotional impact that loss has on children – whether it’s a family member, friend or pet – and is in keeping with the story of James in the classic film The Snowman (1982) and Billy in the adaptation of The Snowman and the Snowdog (2012).

On Thursday 10 May 2018 Pilgrims Hospices and Kingsfords Solicitors delivered the 19 Snowpups to Ashford Borough schools.

This Educational Project wouldn’t be possible without the very generous support of our Education Partner, Kingsford Solicitors.

To find out more about this fascinating arts trail taking place in central Ashford in September for 10 weeks please visit the Snowdogs website or click here. Look for news on social media by searching the hashtag #AshfordSnowdogs and following @AshfordSnowdogs on Twitter.

Farewell weekend and auction partner

The final piece in the Snowdogs puzzle is the farewell weekend and auction. These two high profile events are kindly sponsored by Motorline. The farewell weekend is the only place to see all the Snowdogs and Snowpups sculptures together in one place before they race off to find their new ‘furever’ homes at the final event, the Snowdogs auction, where they will be auctioned by Pilgrims Hospices to raise vital funds for local hospice care.

It wouldn’t be possible to deliver the farewell weekend and the final Snowdogs auction without the valuable support of Motorline, a business that prides itself on supporting its local communities.

Motorline has been incredibly generous to Pilgrims Hospices for many years. In 2013, the company kindly donated a van for use by the retail team; since then, more than £3 million each year is raised through retail donations. For 2018 Motorline places the final piece in the Snowdogs jigsaw by becoming Pilgrims’ farewell weekend and auction partner.

Motorline provides vital services in the community by offering family friendly purchases and support through the Motability scheme for people with disabilities. Motorline’s core values reflect Pilgrims’ principles of supporting people to live well in their communities.

The support of the local community and Motorline makes all the difference and Pilgrims are incredibly grateful to them for partnering with us on this magical farewell weekend and auction.

Sponsors and partnership

The project partners include Ashford Designer Outlet, County Square, Quinn Estates and Hodson Developments as Presenting Partners, Kingsford Solicitors as Education Project Partner and and Motorline as the Farewell Weekend and Auction Sponsor. This fascinating project encourages businesses, groups and education establishments to get involved.

Our work is as much about supporting people with incurable illness to live as it is about caring for them at end of life. The Snowdogs trail will be a wonderful celebration of Ashford life, so we are really pleased to be involved.

Cate Russell, Pilgrims Hospices Chief Executive

The Snowdogs Discover Ashford 2018 project is delivered in partnership with Wild in Art, creative producers of spectacular, mass-appeal public art events, and Snowdog Enterprises Ltd, part of Penguin Ventures.

Other places have held similar events and benefited greatly from providing education and learning opportunities and promoting community engagement and health and wellbeing. These include the hugely popular Go Superlambananas! (Liverpool City of Culture, 2008), Books about Town (London, 2014) and Snowdogs by the Sea (Brighton & Hove, 2016).

Charlie Langhorne, Director of Wild in Art, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Ashford Borough Council and Pilgrims Hospices on this event. Our events are designed to bring the enjoyment of public art to everyone while offering new ways for people to explore their local area. We hope that businesses in Ashford will recognise the cultural benefits of sponsoring a Snowdog, as well as the positives for their own community. It will be a fantastic spectacle and is an excellent way to raise vital funds for local hospice care.”

As well as raising funds for Pilgrims, the Snowdogs project offers a simple way to open up conversations with children about bereavement and loss, making memories that can be cherished for years to come. Cate Russell added: “We know that so many local families face these sensitive issues, and things can feel especially poignant at Christmas, so the project will be a chance to work with local schools and community groups to explore these topics and highlight the support that’s available for families.”

Click here to keep up to date with Snowdogs Discover Ashford 2018 and find out about future events.

If you or someone you know is coping with a life limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims free services, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about your options or click here to read about our Wellbeing and Social Programme.