Become a Buckingham Otter Spotter

Schools, groups and local firms have all contributed to the amazing Buckingham Otter Trail

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:24 pm

Buckingham has gone 'otterly' overboard, with the launch of its fun summer Otter Trail

After months of preparation, the Buckingham Otter Trail launched on Friday, July 23, with 10 colourful otter sculptures unveiled at various locations across the town.

Organised by Buckingham Town Council, the Otter Trail is a free, fun event featuring 3ft-high decorated otter sculptures for people to spot in shop windows and green spaces.

The Mayor and Roundwood Primary School children with Prints of the Future

Community groups and schools were given otters to decorate as they chose, and the resulting artworks are now all in situ.

The trail will be in place until Monday, August 31, and the town council hopes it will attract residents and visitors to discover and rediscover the town and get Buckingham back to business after lockdown, as well as making art accessible to all.

Trail maps can be picked up from the Tourist Information Centre in the Old Gaol. Then when you have completed the trail, you can pop back to the Tourist Information Centre to pick up an Otter Spotter badge and enter a competition to win local prizes

Mayor of Buckingham Margaret Gateley said: "One of my first opportunities as Mayor of Buckingham has been to meet many of the community groups and schools who have lovingly painted one of the 10 otter sculptures which are part of the Otter Trail.

Locki, with MyFutureSelf founder Carl and Charlotte Rooke

"It has been a delight to see their different artistic interpretations and to witness their enthusiasm for their work. This was especially evident when I was able to meet groups of schoolchildren with their own otter.

"I look forward to walking the trail myself."

The funding for the project came from an underspend in the Town Centre and Event’s Committee’s budget after events were cancelled during lockdown, and is part of the committee's work to support businesses and encourage more people into the town. It was also supported by local businesses and charities which have sponsored an otter.

The 10 otters

Flo, with staff at Buckingham Community Hospital and artist Derryn Snowdon

Canalotto is sponsored by the Buckingham Canal Society and painted by Buckingham-based professional artist and teacher Zoe Day as a celebration of the Canal Society's project to transform a disused waterway into a beautiful sanctuary for local wildlife.

A Canal Society spokesman said: "Our aim is to fully restore the 10 miles of the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal, from Cosgrove right through to Buckingham. At Bourton Meadow, where our otter is located, you can see a restored quarter-mile stretch of the canal, which is a haven for many species of wildlife and flora, including kingfishers, reed warblers, herons, various butterflies, dragonflies and fish species, water voles and even grass snakes, which love a swim on a warm day. We would like to give a special thank you to our amazing otter artist, Zoe Day.

Locki is sponsored by MyFutureSelf, founded by Carl Moreton, which supports young people on their mental health, lifestyle and wellbeing, with support from local residents Charlotte Rooke and Justin Wetters who wanted to highlight Carl's work with local Buckingham schoolchildren.

The young people chose the name Locki to reflect MyFutureSelf’s ability to unlock potential in young people. Youngsters completing their mentoring programme suggested words that related to their lives and emotional wellbeing, then coloured them in.

Lacey, with Lace Hill Academy pupils

Patchy is sponsored by longstanding Buckingham business Howes the Florist and decorated by Year 2 pupils at Maids Moreton C of E School, with an Elmer-inspired patchwork design. The whole class took part, with each child designing and painting a section. The children wanted to make his fur appear realistic so opted for tones of brown.

Prints of the Future is sponsored by Gawcott Fields Community Solar Project CIC, and painted by Roundwood Primary School. The school wanted all the children to be part of the painting so decided the best way to do that was by decorating the sculpture with fingerprints.

A school spokesman said: "The children thoroughly enjoyed decorating with their fingerprints and watching as the number of prints grew with a visit to each year group. They really fell for their otter sculpture and were all sad when it had to be collected but they hope people will enjoy finding it as a part of the trail."

Monty is sponsored by Bucks Radio, and painted by Pupils at Bourton Meadow Academy. Following many suggestions, the school decided on a doodle design in the style of Mr Doodle, with lots of individual ideas being knitted together through the use of simple black lines.

Lacey is sponsored by Barratt and David Wilson Homes, builder of the St Rumbold’s Fields development in Buckingham, and decorated by reception children at Lace Hill Academy. The pattern was inspired by the lace-making history of the area. Working in small groups, the children painted the base colour of dark purple and cream for their otter's tummy, then a lacy pattern was stencilled on the top with a doily. The children then added some bright yellows and pinks on the tummy, tail and main body.

Jeff is sponsored by Heritage and Sons Buckingham funeral directors, and decorated by Buckingham Primary School children with the help of teacher Clare Tebboth, who is a local artist and chair of Buckingham Art For All. The design was inspired by the natural world and the children wanted it to reflect the animals, birds and insects they have seen on their many walks during lockdown. Year 6 children liked the idea that people could find lots of different creatures hidden around the sculpture.

Jeff, with children from Buckingham Primary School

Jimmy Fisher was sponsored by Buckingham Town Council and lovingly painted by children who attend Buckingham & Winslow Young Carers (YC2) with help from local designer Kate Lowe. The youngsters decided to include the YC2 big red balloon logo and floating thistledown in their design. Designer Kate took all 65 sets of initials from the current register and painted them on the otter in minute lettering. Jimmy has a daisy chain necklace and is holding a large fish.

Flo was sponsored by Buckingham Town Council and decorated by nurses at Buckingham Community Hospital and artist Derryn Snowdon. Derryn took the otter to the hospital, where the team on duty named her while they enjoyed some art therapy by trying their hand at water marbling. Flo was named after Florence Nightingale, and echoes the flow in water marbling design and the water where otters live.

Olive Otterson is sponsored by The University of Buckingham and has been decorated by the Students’ Union.

A uni spokesman said: "Positive relationships with our local community are really important to the university and we love seeing residents enjoying our campus facilities. The university has educated thousands of students from all over the world for almost 50 years and we employ many of our staff from within the community. We hope the Otter Trail and our university otter will encourage families to make use of the University Bookshop and (if Covid guidelines allow) that you make a visit to the Vinson Building and experience the University Café. We very much look forward to welcoming you."

Olive Otterson with the Mayor at the University of Buckingham
Jimmy Fisher, with YC2 members
Monty, with children from Bourton Meadow Academy
Patchy was decorated by children from Maids Moreton C of E School
Canaletto, with representatives of Buckingham Canal Society