FATBOY Slim has urged the city to get behind the fun of the Snowdogs by the Sea project to raise money for a worthy cause.

The Hove DJ Norman Cook has backed the charity art project, which will see a trail of up to 50 individually designed sculptures of the favourite children's story pooch around the city's streets and parks from September to November next year.

The news was announced yesterday exclusively by The Argus, which is the media partner for the Martlets Hospice and Wild Art project.

Inspired by The Snowman and The Snowdog, the popular sequel to the Sussex-based Raymond Briggs' classic book and television adaptation, the idea is expected to raise thousands for the hospice and attract tens of thousands of people to Brighton and Hove.

Norman Cook is the first celebrity to step forward in support. His snowdog will take pride of place next to his Big Beach Café at Hove Lagoon and will be designed by an artist in front of visitors so everyone can watch the finished product materialise.

Yesterday he was photographed with the first completed sculpture - the glitter snowdog - and climbed on top of another 'naked' snowdog wearing mismatched socks for ear muffs and ready to be decorated.

His antics prompted a passing Jack Russell to bark enquiringly at the 1.5 metre dog and attracted the attention of children intrigued by the commotion.

Speaking to The Argus, he said: "Many people don't know what the Martlets do until they have an experience with them - sometimes for horrific reasons. But the fun aspect of this will bridge the gap between something like this and what they do every day to help people which is a really good thing. It will be great for the city to take part in."

The 3D animals will be brought to life by artists before they are sold at auction to raise money for the charity and will follow in the footsteps of other events around the country - like the previously popular Gromit and Shaun the Sheep sculptures. Even The Argus has a Newshound Snowdog waiting to be created.

Children will have the chance to design their own puppy snowdog models for a school trail. These will also be on display around the city before being returned to their school as a momento of the event.

Sarah Harvey, snowdog project manager for the Martlets, said: "We are thrilled to have the unofficial mayor of Brighton supporting our campaign. Now the call to arms is for artists and businesses who want to be involved. The money raised will go to fund patient care in the hospice and at home."

Public arts events company Wild Art - whose director Charlie Langhorne is from Brighton - brought Gromit Unleashed to Bristol among other projects in Norwich and Birmingham and is the brainchild behind the Sussex event.

Each sculpture will be sponsored by a business, organisations or an individual. Law Firm Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP and Brighton Marina have already been confirmed.

Nadia Cowdrey, partner and head of tax, trusts and estates for Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP, which has offices in Brighton, Henfield and Hassocks, said it was a novel idea and believed it would generate "much needed awareness" for the great work the Martlets does every day.

She added: "As a firm we like to stand out from the crowd and what better way than sponsoring a huge plastic dog - no we aren’t barking mad."

A spokesman for Brighton Marina, as part of the Land Securities group, said it has been involved in a similar project in Norwich and was also delighted to be involved. He hopes Snowdogs by the Sea will be even bigger.