Why have giant rubber ducks been mysteriously appearing in Hastings and Bexhill?

Giant painted rubber ducks have been spotted mysteriously appearing in various locations around Hastings and Bexhill, and this is why.

Giant rubber ducks will be taking over the streets of Hastings and Bexhill. Picture: St Michaels Hospice SUS-210908-162348001
Giant rubber ducks will be taking over the streets of Hastings and Bexhill. Picture: St Michaels Hospice SUS-210908-162348001

Follow That Duck is a Wild in Art mass-participation event, brought to Hastings and Rother by St Michael’s Hospice, collaborating with local councils, businesses, artists and schools. It will be the largest outdoor art installation the area has ever seen.

Each giant rubber duck sculpture will feature a bespoke design, created by a different artist and exclusively sponsored by a local business. Seven ducks have already been sponsored, by companies including MAWS for Fine Food, Tate Fencing and Judge Sampson, a local souvenir manufacturer.

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Albert was the first duck to have hatched, ahead of a paddling of thirty, 5 and a half foot high, uniquely decorated rubber duck sculptures, which will be taking over the streets of Hastings and Rother in summer 2022.

Giant rubber ducks will be taking over the streets of Hastings and Bexhill. Picture: St Michaels Hospice SUS-210908-162400001

The interactive trail will be an important part of strengthening the economic, cultural and social life of the area following the challenges posed by the pandemic; with the aim to increase footfall to the towns and strengthen the tourist pound.

This free, family-friendly public art trail will see the eye-catching duck sculptures placed between Hastings Old Town and Bexhill, wending their way along the coast, waddling into town centres, parks and communal gardens, for 10 weeks next summer. The challenge for trail-walkers will be to see all thirty giant ducks, before they waddle away in September 2022.

As well as attracting visitors to the town, the trail will enhance residents’ wellbeing, with physical activity, visual stimulation and a chance to take a moment to focus on personal wellbeing.

The multi-purpose art trail includes an associated Schools Programme, engaging with schools and colleges across the catchment area, giving pupils of all ages the chance to design and decorate a smaller, Rubber Duckling sculpture. All ducklings will play an integral part in the Follow That Duck trail.

Giant rubber ducks will be taking over the streets of Hastings and Bexhill. Picture: St Michaels Hospice SUS-210908-162412001

The Follow That Duck public art event aims to raise funds and awareness for St Michael’s Hospice, who supports and enables the community of Hastings and Rother to live well with dying, death and loss. The cost of running the Hospice each year exceeds £6 million, two thirds of which is received through voluntary contributions and donations.

St Michael’s Hospice chief executive Dr Karen Clarke said: “I am really excited about St Michael’s Hospice bringing this unique event to Hastings and Rother. Rubber ducks are reminiscent of fun childhood memories, and taking time out of the day, to relax in the tub and soak away the stresses and responsibilities of day to day life. The trail aims to remind participants of the importance of slowing down and prioritising personal wellbeing.

“We’re extremely thankful to our three partners: Fizzy Apple, Printstation and Larking, whose generous support has helped give this project its wings. We’re also grateful to the first local businesses who have sponsored a duck and, following the launch event which was held at the Hospice on Thursday 29th July, we hope to appeal to many more local businesses to sponsor a duck, support the work of St Michael’s Hospice and enable this engaging, creative event to bring joy to our local community.”