Councillors got a sneak preview of the huge ‘balloon dog’ sculptures which will be distributed around the borough for its first art trail later this summer.

And they couldn’t be more excited.

As part of the Big Dog Art Trail, in aid of Julia’s House children’s hospice, 30 balloon dog sculptures, 'Swindogs', specially decorated by artists, and more than 40 smaller ‘Swinpups’ decorated by schools and youth groups, will be placed around Swindon for everyone to find and follow the trail.

Afterwards, there will be a display of them all at Steam Museum and they will be auctioned off for benefit of the charity.

The dogs are being held in a secret location at the moment, before the big reveal next month, but council leader Jim Robbins, as well as cabinet members Marina Strinkovsky, Paul Dixon, Janine Howarth and Adorabelle Shaikh got an early view.

They also met the artist who made the dog sponsored by the council Judy Guillery and the project manager for the art trail Chris Hyde.

Coun Robbins said: “I can’t wait to see these go around town. They look fantastic and it will be amazing to see people going around trying to see them all.

"It’s really exciting to see, and I’m really glad that Julia’s House will be getting some money from this, it’s such a good cause.”

Cabinet member for culture and leisure Coun Strinkovsky said: “These dogs are unimprovable – they are every bit as fantastic as the Grommits in Bristol or the pigs in Bath. It’ll be so awesome to see kids trying to catch them all just like Pokemon.

“Every dog is different and it’s amazing to see so much beauty and humour being used in the decoration of them.”

Councillor Howarth, the member for housing said: “This will bring such joy to the town. It’ll be wonderful to see.”

Artist Judy said: “I’m a Swindon artist and I’ve been freelance since I was made redundant in the lockdown, and I did everything I could to be selected to design a dog. This is such a wonderful thing for the town and I’m absolutely overjoyed to be a part of it.”

Mr Hyde said the council had been hugely helpful to the project since day one: “The council in effect donated us the space we are using, and we have not had to get planning permission for any of the statues which makes it so much easier.

“The company which runs these trails Wild in Art have sometimes asked me how I’ve got Swindon Council to be so co-operative.”