The wait is finally over in Bradford on Avon as the first cygnet hatched at the nest next to the town bridge yesterday - a week ahead of schedule for the Swan Sweepstakes challenge.

Bradford on Avon resident Richard Clarke spotted the first egg hatching yesterday.

The first cygnet was shortly followed by the second, and onlookers are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of five more.

People in the town have been placing their bets in the Swan Sweepstakes, guessing when the first egg would hatch in order to win a meal at the Swan Hotel in the town.

Time slots costing 50p, to raise money for the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital, were available from May 15-22 and over 70 slots had already been filled. James Sullivan-Tailyour, who owns The Swan Hotel, set up the bet.

He said: “The idea is whoever had the closest guess was the winner. Someone obviously figured the first slot would be a good bet.

“The first cygnet came very early but the winner will still receive the prize and we have raised money for a worthy charity.

“There are people down by the river all the time, keeping an eye out for the swans, so we can expect the rest to hatch imminently.”