A treasured statue celebrating a Dons legend is staying in Aberdeen for good – thanks to a generous hotel owner.
The Oor Wullie Willie Miller statue took pride of place at the entrance to the Bon Accord Centre all summer, with admirers of all ages posing with it for selfies.
The statue pays tribute to much-loved comic character Oor Wullie and Aberdeen FC hero Willie Miller, captain of the famous Gothenburg Greats.
When the artwork was put up for auction last week, its future in the city was secured when kind-hearted businessman Drew Crawford stumped up £9,000 for it, with proceeds going to The Archie Foundation.
The statue was one of more than 200 put on display on Scottish streets as part of the Big Bucket Trail before auctions last week raised £1.29 million for several good causes.
Mr Crawford, who runs the Pinehurst Lodge Hotel and Restaurant on Pitmedden Road, Dyce, with his wife Lorna, said he knew the statue was for him the moment he saw it.
“I am 61 years old and I have fond memories of getting Oor Wullie annuals and reading his comics as a boy and I am also an avid Aberdeen FC fan.
“I used to go to watch Aberdeen home and away and everyone who is old enough to remember recalls that magic night that Aberdeen won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in Gothenburg when Willie Miller was captain.”
Mr Crawford remembers watching the 1983 showdown in a bar and describes it as the best Aberdeen had ever been to that point or has been since.
He said: “It was an iconic moment in the history of the city and brought everyone together.
“Willie is a legend. I was absolutely thrilled to win the auction. For the last few days, he has been sitting in the restaurant and has been getting quite a lot of attention. We are going to put him out in the garden.”
Alongside him will be a collection bucket so admirers can throw in coins for The Archie Foundation, which supports children attending Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, along with their parents and the hospital’s staff.
Mr Crawford said: “It is a wonderful charity that has helped so many families and I am pleased we have been able to show support – and Willie is welcome to come and see it by enjoying a meal here.”
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Sarah Mauchline, the artist who designed the statue, said: “I’m so pleased the hotel owners loved him enough to buy him – I’m incredibly honoured and touched.”
The 36-year-old, of Portlethen, added: “I’ll definitely be taking my family out there very soon for a meal to see my ‘lil’ guy again.”
Sarah has pledged to give the statue a fresh lick of paint if he gets a little worse for wear.
She said: “I felt it my duty to keep him in good condition, the least I could do considering the amount the hotel bid.”
Willie Miller said: “I’m delighted that the statue is staying in the city and that it’s going to an avid Dons fan. I have dined at the restaurant before and I’ll have to make a
mental note to go and dine there again so I can see the statue.
“It’s also fantastic that Sarah has agreed to keep him in good condition – that’s a really nice gesture from her.
“But the biggest winner here is The Archie Foundation, which has been given huge backing thanks to the auction. Well done to Drew and to everyone who took part in the auction.”