The Archie Foundation has raised more than half of its £2 million Tayside target, the Tele can reveal.
The help of the community in raising the funds — which are set to go towards a new children’s operating theatre in 2017 — was praised.
The children’s charity brought the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail to Dundee last summer as part of a bid to raise £2 million towards a twin operating suite at Ninewells Hospital through its Tayside Children’s Appeal.
David Cunningham, chief executive of the foundation, revealed the total exclusively to the Tele, which covered the Bucket Trail from its conception to the final auction event.
It also covered the months following the auction, which was held in September, and although the halfway milestone has been reached, staff know there is still a lot to do.
A staggering £883,000 was raised on the night of the auction.
Speaking to the Tele, David said: “It was a fantastic year.
“The whole thing just gained more and more momentum — and the auction really did just blow us all away.
“There will be a major push this year and there’s still a lot left to do. We’re really looking forward to 2017 because the people of Dundee have been marvellous in putting their hands in their pockets to contribute.
“I fully expect their support to continue into this year and that people will rise to the challenge to reach the £2 million goal — and even exceed it.
“We need to keep up the momentum to keep it in people’s minds and keep reminding people why we’re doing this.”
The Archie Foundation’s Tayside Children’s Appeal will help to boost the funding of the twin operating suite, which will cost in excess of £4 million and be delivered by NHS Tayside.
David said the first batch of money will be handed over to NHS Tayside this year, although the amount and date are still to be decided.
He also wanted to remind fans of the Bucket Trail that there would be one last chance to “relive the magic” — with a special episode of BBC documentary programme The Mart still to air.
He added: “We cannot wait for that.
“On February 13, The Mart will tell the story of Aberdeenshire’s Thainstone Mart, the trio of auctioneers from the ANM Group who volunteered their services for the sale of the Oor Wullie statues in Dundee.
“People can watch that to remember the surprise, joy and excitement of that night.”
Caitlan Wolsey, event coordinator for the Archie Foundation, said: “The Oor Wullie Bucket Trail has been our biggest fundraising event to date and the way that the public and businesses of Tayside have responded to it has been amazing.
“It shows how much everybody cares about the sick children for whom the new twin operating theatres at Tayside Children’s hospital will make such a difference.
“We still have a lot of money to raise and it is going to be a very busy year again but we have every confidence that the people of Tayside will help us to reach our £2 million target.”
The Bucket Trail was a huge success after launching in the City of Discovery last year.
Modelled on similar events held around the UK, it encouraged folk to visit each of the Oor Wullie scupltures.
The statues, which were all sold off, included various designs such as Wullie the Menace, Oor Golfer and Tangerine Terror.