CHRISTMAS came early for a number of Wee County charities and groups as the Co-op revealed a £48,000 festive funding boost.

The money will be shared among 17 organisations, all of whom are making a real difference to communities throughout the region.

These include Clackmannanshire Family Support Service, Helping Hand – The Wee County Men's Shed and Dollar Golf Club Course Improvement, who plan to use the money to build a new tee area.

Lloyd Hodkinson of the Men's Shed, said the money will be put to good use by the group.

He told the Advertiser: "The grant will really help the shed. The money will go towards getting all the electricals upgraded.

"It will also help pay for metal craft area for all the members to use."

It is the latest round of pay outs from the fund generated by over 10,500 Co-op members in Clackmannanshire, and means overall the Co-op has invested £105,000 in 52 groups in Alloa and the Hillfoots since the membership scheme launched in September 2016.

Co-op members, who receive a five per cent reward for themselves with a further one per cent going to local causes when they buy own-brand products, have a say in how the money is allocated, and are encouraged to select the organisations they wish to support online.

Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community engagement at the Co-op, said: "Since the launch of the local community fund our members have helped 12,000 organisations to make a positive difference in their neighbourhoods, and in the last 12 months alone we have invested £19m in local causes.

"The fund is now supporting a wide variety of local organisations, from village halls and support groups to education providers and neighbourhood watch schemes, all of which are helping to make Alloa and the Hillfoots better, happier, and healthier places to live."

The Co-op has 4.65 million active members, including 1,800,000 recruited since the new scheme began on 21 September 2016, and over one million have already chosen which local group they want to support.