DOZENS of schools and businesses are bidding to paint Southend’s 30 giant hares and be part of a fundraising art trail.

Fifty schools and groups have joined the Hares About Town campaign, in conjunction with the Echo, in aid of Havens Hospices.

The event will see arty sculptured bunnies hop up all over Southend’s cultural hotspots in July.

About 30 1.6m high pieces will each be decorated by emerging and amateur artists with a unique design.

The campaign was launched back in June with a glitzy celebrity event, and organisers began asking groups and people to come forward to help decorate the hares.

The hares will eventually be auctioned off at the Cliffs Pavilion on September 23 next year in aid of Havens Hospices.

A spokesman said: “We are very excited at the amount of interest shown and that other establishments are as excited as we are to be uniquely associated with the sculptures and the Hares About Town initiative.”

Lisa Clark, headteacher of Hamstel Infant School, Southend, added “This project is bringing our communities together and the children are really excited about it.

“We are grateful for Southchurch Academy for supporting us in sponsoring the Leverets for both Hamstel Infant and Junior Schools.

“We look forward to continuing to grow the links between our local schools.” Leigh artist Paul Karslake, 60, from Leigh, painted the first of the quirky sculptures.

The eye-catching charity project also involves event-based firm, Wild in Art.

Schools and groups will decorate hares helping students to learn about conservation, history, literature and more with curriculum specific activities included in the extensive learning resource pack.

Southend High School and Girlguiding Essex South East are among those who have signed up.