THERE have not been official Christmas illuminations in Tullibody for longer than most townsfolk can remember, but that all changed at the weekend thanks to a huge effort from the community.

And it was an emotional lights switch-on with numerous teary eyes as Emma Drysdale, widow of everyone's favourite Santa and local community champion Donald, was invited to push the button, rolling the festive season into the town.

It took the band of hardy volunteers at Tullibody Events a year to raise the necessary funds with thanks to everybody that donated, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for footing the installation bill and Clackmannanshire Council for advice.

The civic centre, with thanks to Tullibody Community Development Trust (TCDT) which recently secured a lease for the building from the local authority, was packed to the brim with people on Saturday, December 1, as the activities got underway in the afternoon.

There was festive fun with games, a Santa's grotto, cakes, hot drinks and more with a range of volunteers, community groups and parent councils coming together.

"It was a right good community event" according to Pauline McNaughton, one of the organisers at Tullibody Events.

There was a "phenomenal" turnout, with Pauline saying it highlighted the fact the community very much needs a venue where people can come together.

From the civic centre, a procession was then led to Tron Court by the Alloa Bowmar Pipe Band.

They got the crowd cheering before Santa and Emma were invited to flick the switch.

Her late husband, Donald Drysdale, is "the Santa of Tullibody that all of us remember" explained Pauline.

She added: "I'm a grown-up with my own daughter and I remember Donald on his horse riding about the schools, dressed up as Santa.

"It was an emotional moment; a nod to say we remember Donald and we appreciate everything he had done for the whole community and Tron Court.

"It brought a tear to quite a lot of people."

Lynsey O'Mailley was the master of ceremonies while thanks also go to Alix Muir for headlining the event and providing entertainment free of charge.

The offering was further enhanced by Just Dance Elite and St Serf's Church Choir.

The "superb event" will "go down in our local history", according to Janette McGowan from the development trust.

She added: "The events team were fantastic at pulling all this together I saw many locals with tears in their eyes watching the parade from the civic centre to Tron Court and Santa and Emma switching on the tree lights was a perfect finale."

There are hopes to keep the momentum going for next year and raise more funds for more lights in the town.