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Swindon Soroptimists Go Walkies with the Big Dog Art Trail!

Day of Service 2023 with the Big Dog Art Trail

A picture of Swindog Artie hidden inside a shop window at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet

Day of Service

Here at the Soroptimists, we have an international Day of Service, as befits an international organisation! Each year women from clubs all over the world mark the day, either by taking part in activities related to a specific theme chosen for the year, or by performing other acts of service that advance the SIGBI mission goals. This year’s Day of Action fell on July the 15th, the same day as UN Youth Skills Day, so we particularly wanted a local project that supported children. We found it in the form of the Big Dog Art Trail 2023 run in aid of Julia’s House, a children’s hospice that supports children and their families across Dorset and Wiltshire. Aptly enough, the Big Dog Art Trail even launched on the same day as our day of service, 15th July.

What is the Big Dog Art Trail?


Here’s what you need to know! The trail showcases the work of numerous artists, and gave Swindon children and teens the chance to hone their artistic skills in service to a fantastic cause.

Big Dog Art Trail FAQs:

More than 30 larger than life balloon dog sculptures – the Swindogs – are set to be unleashed across Swindon during the summer of 2023.

As well as the supersized balloon dogs, we’ve also got 42 smaller Swinpup sculptures for you to discover, which have mainly been created by local schools, colleges and community groups.

The uniquely decorated sculptures will create the UK’s first-ever balloon dog art trail and will raise essential funds for the local children’s hospice charity, Julia’s House.

Brought to you by Julia’s House and global public art producer, Wild in Art, The Big Dog Art Trail will create a free walking trail through some of Swindon’s most well-loved and historic parks, landmarks and streets and will shine a light on art and culture in the heart of the town.

On the day itself, our member Corrine was the first up to represent Swindon Soroptimists as a volunteer on the trail. She had great fun discovering the sculptures for the first time and giving families hints to find the hidden ones.  She passed the baton on to members Lydia, Jackie, Gillian and Alison, who manned this wonderful and imaginative trail on a subsequent weekend.

Jackie greets Swindog Penny for Your Thoughts

Having most wisely chosen the Swindon Designer Outlet Village to avoid the torrential rain forecast for the day, our members encouraged children to log the trail at the Outlet and advised their parents on how to download the App so they could – on a day with better weather! – search for the rest of the 72 Swindogs!

Better weather

That day with better weather just so happened to come along when our members Rozza, Lynnette and Corrine were on the rota to volunteer. They were most delighted with their good fortune; armed with step-counters, they set out to explore an outdoor section of the trail.


Lynnette, Corrine and Rozza (from left to right) poised for adventure, next to Adventure Hound the Swindog!

From their start outside the train station, they made it all the way to Old Town Gardens, with detours to check on the welfare of every dog they passed, from the cute pups stationed at the Central Library to this new friend in Queens Park.

Corrine, Lynnette and Rozza in Queens Park with Swindog Viva La Frida


Over the course of the day, they met 25 dogs, and took more than 10,000 steps!

We’ve all loved taking part in the trail, and we hope you will give it a try too. Visit a stockist to get a paper map, or download the app on a smartphone. It’s available in the App Store or via Google Play.

Good luck with the trail from all of us at Swindon Soroptimists!


Julia’s House provides practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, providing frequent and regular support in their own homes, in the community or at their hospices. You can read more about their work and find out what you can do to support Julia’s House here.