'National treasure' Oor Willie the star of First Minister's Christmas card

7 December 2016, 12:35 | Updated: 7 December 2016, 12:40

Eighty years after making his debut in comic strips, the iconic cartoon character of Oor Wullie has featured on the First Minister's official Christmas card.

Nicola Sturgeon described the fictional boy, who is pictured in his trademark dungarees sitting on his bucket in the snow, as being a "much-loved national treasure''.

The cartoon character is famous for his fictitious exploits which have been chronicled in the Sunday Post newspaper since March 1936.

In the card, which was created with the help of two former members of the DC Thomson team responsible for the comic strip, Wullie can be seen sitting in front of his shed exclaiming "Help ma boab'' after the First Minister leaves a surprise Christmas gift for him.

Ms Sturgeon is also included in the illustration, peering round from behind the shed.

The original artwork will be auctioned next year, with the money raised going to charities which help children and families in Scotland and overseas.

The First Minister said: "Oor Wullie is a much-loved national treasure adored by both children and adults across Scotland.

"His witty banter and mischievous character have been keeping people entertained for generations and the marvellous artwork and timeless storylines mean that everyone recognises a little of themselves in these classic tales.

"I am delighted that on Wullie's 80th anniversary, Peter and Morris have created a unique illustration for my 2016 Christmas card.''

She added: "Christmas is a time when we can all take a moment to slow down and spend time with our family and friends.

"However, I also hope over the next few weeks people can take time to give comfort, companionship and support to those who need it.''

Artist Peter Davidson said he was ``very honoured to have been asked to design this Christmas card''.

He added: "Oor Wullie has amused and delighted Scotland for over eighty years and hopefully this scene captures some of that joy.''

Writer Morris Heggie said: "I feel very fortunate to be the cog that currently takes this iconic strip forward and am delighted that the wee laddie from Auchenshoogle is getting such recognition in the year of his 80th anniversary.''

Money raised from the sale of the illustration will be split between the Archie Foundation, SiMBA, the Christine Witcutt Memorial Fund and the Dixon Community.

Since 2007, artwork from the First Minister's official Christmas cards has raised nearly £170,000 through sales of the original paintings and limited edition prints.