After a hugely successful 10-week public trail around the borough, Ashford’s amazing Snowdog and Snowpup sculptures raised a staggering £142,000 at last night’s charity auction (Monday 3 December).
In a final farewell (following the success of the Farewell Weekend held at the Julie Rose Stadium on December 1 and 2), a glamorous gala auction was held at Ashford International Hotel last night, with celebrity TV auctioneer and hosts Michael Hogben and Alison Chapman at the helm as local businesses and residents clamoured for their favourite dog.
A flurry of bids for the popular pooches pushed the grand total raised to over £142,000, which will provide vital funding for Pilgrims Hospices, contributing to the wonderful work they do in the Kent community.
Mr. Doodle’s Doodle Dog sold for the highest bid of the night at £15,000 – with the man himself live doodling a picture that became part of the bidder’s prize. Bagdogg, another popular pooch, sold for £9,000; Snowbrador and 2 Tone Ska Dog both raised £5,200 each; Stripes fetched a fabulous £7,000; Harry Kanine sold for a bid of £6,200 and Noble Ash reached £5,500, just to name a few.
Snowdogs Discover Ashford was brought to the town over 10 weeks between September and November in a joint initiative by Wild in Art, Ashford Borough Council and Pilgrims Hospices, and the residents of Ashford and beyond truly embraced the magical event.
Based on the popular children’s story The Snowman and the Snowdog by Raymond Briggs, the Snowdog trail explored the themes of life, loss, fun, friendship, companionship, strength and kindness – a story told at Pilgrims Hospices each day.
The Snowdog sculptures were designed by local artists and sponsored by local businesses, together with 19 Snowpups that have been designed and decorated by 19 local schools. These beautifully crafted giant sculptures have left a lasting impression on thousands of visitors who have ‘pawsed’ to admire them.
The positive impact of the trail was also welcomed by local businesses in the town:
- On the day of the official Snowdog launch (September 15), County Square Shopping Centre reported a 4,000 increase in people coming through the doors compared to the same Saturday last year.
- This falls in line with official Town Centre stats in September, where footfall was up by 122k compared to the previous month.
- Weekend footfall in the town in September was up 13% on previous years.
- Our Tourist Information Centre reported their busiest day ever, and after every weekend continued to report how busy it was.
- The Library (hosting the Classic Snowdog and 7 pups) reported a significant spike of new library memberships and book loans on the day of the launch, and numbers remained unusually high every Saturday since.
- Because of the Snowdogs, some businesses started to open on Sundays, and told us that business throughout the duration of the trail was good. One small independent retailer told us:
- “We have opened on Sundays before and taken £20! We decided to open this Sunday and we took 95% more than our closest Sunday last year!”
- In September they traded up by 42%
- In Oct they saw a +50% increase on last year
At the end of the trail, the official Snowdogs Discover Ashford app recorded that:
- Over 4,500 people downloaded the app
- Over 56,000 rewards were redeemed
- 1,670 images were uploaded to the gallery
- A distance of nearly 1,000 miles was walked by participants of the trail, which equates to over 2.3 million steps and over 17,000 hours spent hunting for Snowdogs!
Kate Duddell, Corporate, Community & Events Fundraising Manager for the Kent branches of Pilgrims Hospices, said: ““This has been an amazing experience for Pilgrims Hospices, working with Ashford Borough Council, the wonderful sponsors and schools has given us so many marvellous opportunities to engage with local people and develop important relationships and connections within the community.
“The auction and the funds it raised was quite spectacular! We send our thanks to everyone who has been involved in helping to make this such an incredible success.”
Of the trail’s huge success, Cllr Mike Bennett, Portfolio holder for Culture at Ashford Borough Council, said: “Snowdogs Discover Ashford has been incredibly well received by the people of Ashford and beyond. The success of the trail has far outweighed anything we could have possibly imagined when the idea was initially brought to us. To see the community come together, bonding through art and interpreting the messages conveyed by the trail each week, was a truly wonderful experience and we’re thrilled that they have now raised so much money for such a worthy local cause.”