PREPARATIONS are being stepped up in Ellesmere for the launch of a colourful summer art display with a watery theme.

Dozens of individually-designed ‘Meremaids’ and ‘Meremen’ will be put on show in and around the town centre throughout July, August and early September.

The nine-week festival is being led by local library assistant Sally Poynton, with schoolchildren, businesses, and community groups taking part.

The volunteers have been busily decorating their own aquatic figures, using a cut-out template provided by Sally and her husband, Alan.

Locals and visitors will be encouraged to follow a figure-of-eight Meremaid and Meremen trail around the town centre and compete in a ‘spot the mermaid’ quiz with a family ticket for the Blue Planet Aquarium near Ellesmere Port as a first prize.

“We’ve had a terrific response from the community,” said Sally.

"Everyone has been so enthusiastic and keen to get involved.

"There’ll be scores of meremaids and meremen on display in more than 40 shops and other local businesses, as well as the library, the town hall and other landmark buildings.

“People have been so creative and they’ve come up with all sorts of original and novel ideas, even though they’ve been working in isolation during lockdown.

"It’s amazing what they’ve achieved.”

One aim of the project is to encourage more people visiting the mere beauty spot to head into the town centre.

Special ‘mermaid’ direction signs will point the way from the Mereside and from visitor car parks on the edge of the town.

The festival will run from Saturday July 3 to September 4.

Ellesmere’s deputy mayor, Councillor Anne Wignall, who is also chairman of the Friends of Our Space – the building which houses the library – added: “This project will create a kaleidoscope of colour with meremaids and meremen in all shapes and sizes.

"We hope it will give a warm and fitting welcome to visitors and encourage them to take a leisurely stroll around our lovely old market town, pop into the shops and sample the lovely food and drink available in our local eateries and hostelries.”