DRAGONS are set to invade the Taunton area this summer as plans for a business-boosting family fun trail are unveiled today.

The Taunton Deane Dragon Trail will aim to emulate the success of the Gromit Unleashed trail in Bristol and will see around 30 decorated dragons set loose in various locations across Taunton Deane.

Most dragons will be located in the county town while others will also be emerging from their lairs in Wellington, Wiveliscombe and nearby villages.

The aim of the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail is to raise money for good causes in the area, create footfall in the towns by attracting shoppers, visitors and tourists and provide some summer fun for families.

Spokesman Mike Marshall, of the organising team, said: “We hope this fabulous project will get people in Taunton Deane really fired up!

“We’re hoping families and businesses will support this colourful and imaginative venture which should be not only marvellous fun but also raise thousands of pounds for a worthy causes.”

The dragons, to be made by professional artist Tim Hobbis, who was the creator of the models used in Newport’s Super Dragons 2 trail, will be about five feet high, including their plinth. They will be in position from late July to early September.

Tim, 45, said: “It’s going to be great. Everywhere there has been a trail has said it went even better than expected.”

The project is being run by a team including volunteers, Taunton Deane councillors, along with representatives of Tone Leisure, the Somerset County Gazette, Deane DLO and local businesses.

Somerset Community Foundation will be helping to administrate money raised from the project, which will be distributed to community projects in Taunton Deane.

In early April, a design competition will be launched for local people to submit designs for the dragons. Winning designs will be painted on to the dragons while some competition sponsors will also be able to choose their own designs.

Businesses are being invited to support the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail by sponsoring a Dragon. Sponsorship packages range in price from £1,000 to £3,000.

Once the trail has been completed, the Dragons will go on display between September 29 and October 11 as part of the Quartz Arts Festival held annually at Queen’s College, in Taunton.

They will then be auctioned in the school’s Queen’s Hall on October 12 to raise money for community projects in Taunton Deane.

Chris Alcock, headmaster at Queen’s College, said: “We are delighted to support the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail and really look forward to it becoming part of the Quartz Festival.

“Community events such as these are so important in bringing together the people of Somerset and offering families and local businesses the opportunity to be involved in their community.

“Here at Queen’s College we will be sponsoring a Dragon and hope other businesses in the area will take on the challenge and help make this a truly celebratory event.” Juliette Dickinson, managing director of Tone Leisure, added. “Tone Leisure is proud to support the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail initiative because it not only brings the community together but it gives us a chance to celebrate our heritage in a fun and creative way.

“It’s important for local businesses to get behind campaigns like this, because everyone benefits when we all work together.

“We can’t wait to find out what our dragon looks like and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone having fun on the trail this summer.”

A website and app are being created to help publicise the dragon trail while high profile media coverage will also boost the project.

Dragons were chosen for the trail after the creature was adopted as part of the winning design on Somerset’s new flag. The emblem celebrates Taunton’s place as the County Town.

Somerset County Gazette:

A scale model of a dragon showing what the trail ones will look like. The real ones will be about five feet high.

Businesses are hoping to see increased footfall this summer as a result of the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail.

They are also being invited to get involved by sponsoring a dragon.

Andy Lehner, managing director of West of England Developments (Taunton), is among those to have signed up.

He said: “This is going to be a great thing for the Taunton area and I can really see how this will work well for families and youngsters.

“Importantly, it will also bring people into the town and the area.

“Taunton is a growing place and this project will help show off what it’s got to offer – that’s why I think it’s very important.”

Taunton Town Centre Company manager Graham Love said: “This is a great idea for Taunton and Taunton Deane.

“Similar trails have proved very successful in their towns and cities.

“I’m sure it’ll be the sort of thing people support by coming to see the dragons.”

To sign up or for more details on becoming a sponsor, contact Andy Sharman on 07795-561290 or swbac@hatchers.net or David Reed on 07818-030462 or cllr.d.reed@tauntondeane.gov.uk

You can also download information on sponsoring a dragon here: SIP V8.pdf