AN ILLUSTRATOR from North Berwick who had her seabird-inspired submission to The Big Hare Trail chosen for display has seen her passion for art reignited – 22 years after her love for puffins began.

Abbie Herriot, 26, grew up on Quality Street and spent her childhood exploring the sands of the town’s beaches in search of puffins.

It was her love for the small seabird – which began when she had a giant puffin visitor at North Berwick Nursery School when she was four to help promote the opening of the town’s Scottish Seabird Centre – that inspired the artist to submit a design to the hare trail. The public art event, in partnership with Wild in Art, sees the designs of 10 artists displayed on hares across North Berwick for 10 weeks this summer.

Out of 100 applicants, Abbie’s North Berwick-inspired design was chosen – her artwork is displayed outside the Seabird Centre, which she has visited 25 times throughout the years.

The illustrator and part-time waitress at Grand Cru on Hanover Street, Edinburgh, said: “I grew up in North Berwick with my siblings Hazel, Blake and Laurie; we moved to Jupiter Artland near Balerno when I was 16, where my stepdad was the groundsman.

“Both of these places enhanced my passion for art and design.

“I didn’t appreciate North Berwick enough as a youngster: we had everything at our fingertips, the beach, the Lodge, the Law, we had places to explore but we were always safe in the community.”

Abbie, who lives in Granton, Edinburgh, with sister Hazel, studied a BA degree in children’s book illustration and an MA in surface pattern and textiles at the University of Central Lancashire.

She will head back to her beloved East Lothian countryside later this year with boyfriend Aaron Coppinger when they move to Athelstaneford.

The artist said: “Having my design chosen has brought back my passion for illustrating. I love to draw and I winged the design based on things I love.

“It made me realise I have got to do this with my life, it has been a whirlwind experience.”

Abbie now spends three to four days of her week working on her illustrating business, Abbie Illustrates – all because of her hare.

Her mum Kirsty, of Dall Hollow, North Berwick, is “filled with a huge amount of pride” for her daughter.

She said: “I loved her puffin design and it instantly made me think all the way back to her being in the Courier photo at nursery school.

“Then having the hare chosen to be outside the Seabird Centre – which was what the photo back when she was only four was all about – seemed like a lovely full circle.”

The hare was a family affair, as Abbie let her nine-year-old brother Laurie paint with her.

Kirsty added: “Laurie is Abbie’s biggest fan, apart from me, and lots of visitors will have heard him proudly tell them over the holidays when we’ve been down at the beach and harbour: ‘My sister painted that, she’s an artist.’ He has pointed his contribution out to lots of passers by too.”

Abbie’s mum is hoping to rally a team together to bid on the hare when the artworks are auctioned off on October 1.

She said: “A few friends and family have said they will help add to my bidding pot, so we have requested tickets for the bidding day at the Marine Hotel and will try our hardest to win it. If anyone wants to help with this, please feel free to get in touch – all money gathered, whether we won or not, would go to Leuchie House.

“If we do miraculously manage to win it, we would love for it to go somewhere in North Berwick where lots of people can still see it, us included.”

Visit Abbie’s art page at facebook.com/abbieillustratesedinburgh