What is OxTrail and how does it work?

OxTrail is Oxfordshire’s first ever sculpture trail, raising funds for Sobell House Hospice. You can visit 31 life-sized ox sculptures throughout Oxford, primarily in outdoor locations, and 107 smaller oxen, mainly painted by schools, groups and local media in indoor locations across the whole county. It is designed to be an engaging, exciting event for the county – its residents, businesses, and visitors.

Over eight weeks, OxTrail will encourage locals and visitors of all ages to explore Oxfordshire’s iconic attractions, find some hidden gems and engage with the community. After the trail, the beautifully painted large oxen will be gathered from their locations to graze in one magnificent herd on 7th – 8th September ready to be auctioned at a final live event to raise crucial funds for Sobell House on 13 September.

When is it and where?

OxTrail takes place from 6th July – 29th August. The large oxen are all within the Oxford ring road at a range of iconic and well-loved locations. The mini herd features over 100 mini oxen at libraries, hotels, shops, and farm centres and can be found throughout the county from Carterton to Henley via Witney, Wantage, Abingdon, Didcot, and Wallingford, and from Banbury to Thame via Bicester, Kidlington, and Wheatley.

Is it free?

Yes. However, as it is a crucial fundraiser for Sobell House Hospice Charity, we do encourage people to make a donation for a map. The app is £1.99 through app stores.

Why is OxTrail raising funds for Sobell House Hospice?

Sobell House Hospice has been providing compassionate care to the people of Oxfordshire since 1976. Every year, we care for over 4,000 people. From the moment someone is told the devastating news they have an incurable illness until the end of their life, we are here to support them. Our care also extends to family and friends, who face the life-changing loss of a loved one.

The heart of our care takes place at Sobell House Hospice in Oxford, but most of the care we provide is for people at home or in local hospitals.

Sobell House is jointly funded by the NHS and the Sobell House Hospice Charity. It costs around £9 million per year to run our core services. 25% of our day-to-day costs is funded through the charity, without which many of our crucial services such as bereavement care, catering, transport, creative therapies, and social care would simply cease to exist.

OxTrail is our biggest fundraiser to date and we are hoping to raise at least £250,000.

There are so many ways people can help us raise money through OxTrail, from buying OxTrail goodies in any of our shops including the Westgate hub, to taking part in the OxTrail raffle, to downloading the app. People can also donate online, by text or in person, dedicate a loved one’s name on our Forget Me Not ox, take on an OxTrail fundraising challenge or buy one of our beautiful sculptures in the auction in September.

Who else is involved?

Over 55 fantastic local organisations and companies are helping to make OxTrail happen by funding the costs of the trail, providing us with gifts-in-kind, services, and event spaces, helping to promote it and providing us with advice and connections. For full details of the sponsors and partners involved, visit oxtrail2024.co.uk/sponsors.

We are also working with Wild in Art to deliver OxTrail. Wild in Art is a leading producer of spectacular public art events that entertain, enrich, inform, and leave a lasting legacy. It brings together businesses and creative sectors with schools and local communities through the creation of uniquely painted sculptures.

Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities worldwide, including Manchester, Sydney, Auckland, Cape Town, and São Paulo, and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces and Penguin Random House. Find out more here Wild in Art | International Art Trails & Public Events.

How can I get a map?

Any of the nine Sobell House Hospice Charity shops and the OxTrail Hub Shop in the Westgate stock maps along with many of the mini herd hosts.

Can I see them all the time, every day?

We have tried our best to find over 70 locations with as much access as possible, however some venues are closed on certain days and times. Opening times are available on the app.

How long does it take to do the whole trail and how can I plan my route?

That question is very tricky for us to answer! Our map and app help break down the trail, but it is up to you how leisurely or quickly you go. The city centre route is approximately 20km and could be done as a challenge in one day or spread out over a couple of days. There are lots of interesting and fun mini herd locations to visit across the county too as part of OxTrail, so the trail provides lots of summer holiday activities.

We recommend travelling by bike, bus or on foot when ox-ploring the city centre main trial.

Why aren’t there any oxen in my town/village/area?

The mini herd locations were largely based around where the participating schools and groups are. Almost a quarter of Oxfordshire schools have taken part in OxTrail 2024, with a wide range of locations, so we hope a lot of our county is covered and that there are nearby herds you can get to easily.

What are you doing to make it environmentally friendly?

OxTrail promotes rail and bus travel, walking, cycling and wayfinding throughout, in an easy-to-reach trail, accessible to all on foot, wheelchair and bike using the app or the map. The sculptures themselves are fibreglass, but they are produced to last for many years (at least 25 years) leaving behind a lasting OxTrail legacy. They are made in Poland to EU environmental standards and delivery journeys are minimised. For each sculpture produced, Wild in Art plant three trees in the Atlantic Rainforest. We also worked with our Logistics Partner, Darcica Logistics (winner of the OXBA Green Award 2023) to get the sculptures to their locations as efficiently as possible to reduce the impact on Oxfordshire’s environment.

Is the trail accessible?

One of the key criteria for selecting our sculpture and mini herd locations was making sure that they were fully accessible for everyone including people with disabilities and access requirements.

We have designed and developed our website and app to comply with the AA standard of accessibility, as outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

Our mobile app is compatible with both Android and iOS screen readers, including but not limited to TalkBack for Android and VoiceOver for iOS.

We have designed our website and app interface with a focus on simplicity and clarity, ensuring that users can easily navigate through its various features and functions.

What will Oxfordshire gain from the trail?

We expect over 500,000 people to take part in the trail, and it will attract additional visitors to the county and the city of Oxford, as well as providing a fantastic free activity for Oxfordshire residents. Other trails have reported strong economic impacts from their trails through an increase in visitor numbers to the city/area.

Why is the sculpture an ox?

Oxford is named after the Saxon oxen that crossed the river here and we felt that the animal that gives its name to our city and county was a very worthy representation of the community we serve here at Sobell House. Oxen are also dependable and strong, like our team here at the hospice. In Chinese astrology, oxen are said to be patient, honest and hardworking, more qualities that resonate with the care that our staff provide in the Oxfordshire community.

Who designed all the oxen and how did you select the artists?

The large sculptures were decorated by 30 different professional and amateur artists who submitted their designs towards the end of 2023. Over half of our artists are based in or have close connections to Oxfordshire. Each sponsor selected their preferred design. We are delighted that we have a diverse and beautiful range of artwork!

The mini oxen, as part of the Learning Programme, have been decorated by local schools and community groups.

How do I report damage to a sculpture?

Please visit the OxTrail Hub Shop in the Westgate or call 01865 857007.

What are they made of and where are they made?

The sculptures themselves are fibreglass, but they are produced to last for many years (at least 25 years) leaving behind a lasting OxTrail legacy. They are made in Poland to EU environmental standards and delivery journeys are minimised.

What happens to the sculptures at the end?

At the end of August all the large sculptures (and some of the small ones) will be gathered in the Westgate for the Farewell Event on 7th – 8th September, where you’ll be able to take part in fun activities and help us raise more funds, as well as seeing all the oxen together.

After that they will be herded off to the Saïd Business School, where most of the large oxen will be auctioned to raise more funds for the hospice, along with a selection of the smaller oxen. The Learning Programme oxen will return to the schools and groups that fundraised for and painted them, as a forever memory of OxTrail.

Which sculptures are for sale?

Most of the large oxen will be sold, with the exception of a few that have been bought by their sponsor. A selection of the small oxen will also be sold including the two beauties painted by Annie Sloan, the MINI ox, all the media oxen residing at The Store Hotel, Roxy, Cowley, and Stampede (all created by the hospice), Postb-ox, The Moo-seum oxen from The Story Museum and a few other little surprises!

How much do you expect them to sell for?

All the oxen will have starting prices set according to their valuations. These prices vary depending on the size, the design, and the artist. At other trails, sculptures have sold for anywhere between £3,000 and £100,000, with an average selling price of £7,000.

Can I come to the auction?

Spaces are limited at the auction itself at Saïd Business School, and you will need to fill in the form to register your interest oxtrail2024.co.uk/auction if you’d like to attend the in-person event. However, all are welcome online, and more details and the link can be accessed through oxtrail2024.co.uk/auction. The auction will go live in mid-July.

Will the sculptures include the base?

Most sculptures will be supplied without the concrete base but there will be some concrete bases available to buy. We can discuss this with you once you’ve purchased your sculpture.

Are the sculptures suitable to be left outside over the winter or will they need protecting?

Some of our sculptures which are currently displayed in internal locations are generally more suited to indoor use. However, all the sculptures have been treated with varnish (mainly with a hardy lacquer courtesy of Paint Shop Partners MINI) to protect them from the elements.

Will the sculptures be delivered?

Delivery is not included with your purchase; however, you are able to organise delivery with our Logistics Partner Darcica for an additional fee at or after the auction.

How can I get involved?

There are so many ways to get involved – grab a map or download the app to get started and that’s your summer sorted! The aim of OxTrail is to raise much-needed funds to support people living with life-limiting conditions and their loved ones throughout Oxfordshire, so every pound raised helps us with this goal. Whether you donate, fundraise, buy merch, or take part in the OxTrail raffle, you’ll be helping your local community.

What is the OxTrail raffle for and how can I take part?

To enter the OxTrail raffle, tickets are only available online for just £5 each and you could win an ox-tra special mini ox and lots of other ox-clusive prizes. Visit peoplesfundraising.com/raffle/oxtrail2024.

Can I buy OxTrail goodies and merch?

Of course! We have some ox-ceptional OxTrail merch ranging from pocket money pencils and pin badges to trend-setting tees and hoodies, and moo-vellously cuddly Oxleys, as well as tea-towels and postcards of all your favourite oxen, and tote bags to store them in. We’ve even got some crafty goodies in our shops if you fancy painting or crocheting your very own ox!

Most of our merch is available online at sobellhouse.org/onlineshop, and a selected range will be available at our nine charity shops across the county. For the full range, along with extra activities and to meet the Moo Crew, pop into the OxTrail Hub Shop on the Upper Ground level of the Westgate, above Leiden Square.

How can I help promote OxTrail?

If you have loved OxTrail, please share with your friends, colleagues, family, community, and network! We’re on Facebook, X, Instagram and TikTok #oxtrail2024. Follow @oxtrail2024 and tag us in your photos! Also, you can post your photos on our OxTrail app.

Please do get in touch directly with any fabul-ox stories or press queries on oxtrail@sobellhospice.org.

How can I make a donation?

There are so many ways you can donate, and we want to make it as easy as possible – text OXTRAIL to 70470 (texts cost the donation amount plus one standard network rate message) to donate £5 or go to sobellhouse.org/oxtrail to give a donation of your choice. Alternatively, pop into any of our shops or the OxTrail Hub Shop to make a contactless or cash donation and look out for our collection boxes at many of the herd and mini herd locations.

You can also celebrate and remember the life of someone special with our limited-edition Forget-Me-Not Ox: a unique way to honour your loved one while making a difference to other local families who need our support. Visit sobellhouse.org/forget-me-not.

Will there be another OxTrail after this one?

We hope that OxTrail is a brilliant success, and we would certainly love to do it all again in 2026 if there is the appetite for it. 2026 will be Sobell House Hospice’s fiftieth anniversary year.

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