LEUCHIE House has paid tribute to the generosity and backing of the community, after the auction of 11 giant hares raised more than £115,000 for the charity.

The total, which included £22,000 paid for the golfing-themed 'Hare Tae Golf' sculpture, is enough for Leuchie to fund the equivalent of four specialist nurses for a year.

It also helps plug a gap in funding needed to run the national respite centre, near North Berwick, as it continues to recover from the pandemic, providing holiday breaks to people affected by neurological conditions such as MS, MND and stroke.

The six-foot statues, which delighted people this summer as part of The Big Hare Trail celebrating Leuchie's 10th anniversary as an independent charity, went under the hammer at a grand auction at the Marine Hotel in North Berwick last Friday evening.

The 11 hares sold on the night were: Hare Brained £5,500; Wild Thing £5,300; Race The Wind £7,100; Ocean View £6,500; Hare Tae Golf £22,000; Molly Hare & Friends £8,600; Sky & Sea £12,200; Over The Rainbow £7,400; Woodland Creature £15,000; Unlocking East Lothian £11,000; Mystery Hare (blank) £15,100.

Further good news saw most of the hares staying in East Lothian for the public to enjoy, after several local campaigns resulted in winning bids on the night.

The golfing hare proved the hottest property at Friday's auction – compered by BBC broadcaster Glenn Campbell and overseen by May Matthews of auctioneers Bonhams.

After a flurry of bids from the floor, The Renaissance Club won with a bid of £22,000, bringing the hare back to the course it graced during the Scottish Open.

Thanks to a collective of donors who pooled resources in support of Leuchie, two hares – Sky & Sea and Molly Hare & Friends – were secured for the charity itself.

One of them will take pride at place at Leuchie, while the other will be located at Denis Duncan House, the accessible holiday cottage near Dirleton that the charity will manage from next year.

Another successful community bid sparked an emotional round of applause, as Kirsty Herriot's fundraising campaign to keep her daughter Abbie's creation 'Ocean View' local paid off when it was sold for £6,500.

Kirsty, who now hopes to put the hare in the country park being created by North Berwick Trust to the south of the town, said: "What a nerve-wracking evening!

"Winning Abbie's Hare was beyond my wildest dreams, but we did it. The big cheer at the end just resulted in me bursting into tears! Thank you to every single one of you who helped make this happen, you have no idea how happy you have made me."

The bidder who won Wild Thing confirmed that the hare would be staying in North Berwick and "will be able to see the sea", while Over The Rainbow will also be staying in East Lothian at Papple Steading, between Stenton and Gifford.

George Mackintosh, owner of Papple Steading, said: "The hare's location will be surrounded by bird boxes, rustic shelters and tables, boardwalks and pathways.

"It's wonderful at the same time to support a local charity with such a nationally important purpose."

Lana Banbridge, head of fundraising and communications at Leuchie, said: "This funding is critical, as our efforts to fundraise continue to be limited by the pandemic.

"This funding will pay for half of our specialist nursing team, who enable our guests to live life to their fullest during their stay with us, safe in the knowledge that they are receiving the highest quality of care.

"Those who were able to be with us on Friday heard from a regular guest to Leuchie, Graeme. His ethos and advice mirrors that which sits at the core of all that we do here: 'Don't think about what you can't do, focus on what you can.'"

Stephen Pearson, chair of Leuchie House, said: "We're immensely proud of what the Big Hare Trail has achieved – for the artists who did such amazing designs, the businesses who sponsored them and the people of all ages from all over the world who enjoyed all of these beautiful works of art.

"It brought true joy at a very difficult time.

"To have raised significantly more than we expected from the auction is a huge boost for our charity, enabling the team at Leuchie to continue to provide respite breaks for people from across Scotland who desperately need them."