SURE enough, 2020 has been a year like no other as we continue to come to terms with Covid-19 and its impact on our daily lives.

The pandemic took hold in March, and so it certainly dominates the story of the year.

But at least there were a few months where life was normal.

Take a look at our review of the year, from January through to June.


EMOTIONS were high last week as members of Dollar Golf Club teed off for the very last time at the famous course.

More than 40 golfers arrived at the club on December 31 for an emotional send off.

Despite the frosty conditions, which would usually delay or postpone a game, the members played on as they knew it would be the last chance.

Club spokesperson Terry Young was in attendance and told the Advertiser about the club’s final day – after 129 years.

Terry said: “It was an emotional day. It all went very well; everyone had a great time.”

January 8, page 4

THE first Wee County baby of the year was born on New Year’s morning five hours after the bells brought in the new decade.

Baby Emma Neuvirth was born almost three weeks early at Forth Valley Royal Hospital at 5.33am on New Year’s Day, weighing a healthy 5lbs 1oz.

Emma’s parents Patrik and Slavomira Neuvirth, of Dunvegan Court in Alloa, were both absolutely delighted to welcome their new daughter into the world.

The couple have lived in Alloa for five years and recently returned home to Slovakia to get married.

January 8 Page 6

UGANDA to Alloa isn’t a path travelled often, but for Clackmannanshire’s former resident sheriff, it is one which kickstarted his passion for helping others in a career hastily decided by a “scatty” teenager.

Sheriff David Mackie hung up his robe and wig on Friday, December 20, ending a 15-year stint as a permanent fixture in the courtrooms of Alloa.

Although many things about the sheriff are conventional, the road he took to get where he finished was anything but.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

He spent the first nine years of his life in the warm and sunny climes of Uganda until his father lost his job as the country obtained its independence.

The family then moved to Ayr before a 15-year-old David decided that he wanted to become a lawyer, which he did by acquiring a law degree from the University of Edinburgh.

January 15 Page 2/3


A MISCHIEVOUS cat who went missing from his owner’s house within days of being adopted has been found safe and well 16 months later.

Horace was adopted from Cats Protection’s Forth Valley Adoption Centre in Clacks in September 2018 - but disappeared almost immediately.

Volunteers went out to search for him, handing out flyers and putting up posters, but to no avail.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

Then, out of the blue, a Cats Protection lost and found volunteer received a message last month about a stray who been hanging around a garden – which turned out to be Horace.

February 5 Page 7

A YOUNG Tullibody girl has been called up to represent her country in the boys’ national football team.

Madison Dunn, who attends St Bernadette’s Primary School, developed her skills at Tullibody Lassies and now plays for Celtic.

The 11-year-old was recently signed to the Scotland Boys Club and will begin playing with them next month.

Madison’s proud dad Lee told the Advertiser how the youngster has been kicking a ball for the majority of her life.

February 5 Page 9

A WOMAN from the Wee County has been instrumental for a national campaign seeking to halt the closure of the BBC Red Button service.

Clackmannanshire artist Margaret MacGregor got behind the petition by the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK), providing vital insight on the importance of the interactive teletext television service.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

Margaret highlighted how the service was important for some people with autism, epilepsy, chronic pain, the deaf and many who are elderly and isolated.

The petition by the NFBUK, which has been signed by around 230 organisations so far, celebrated a temporary victory when it successfully halted the switching off of the service at the end of January.

February 26 Page 6


A GROUP of charitable Wee County schoolgirls rolled up their sleeves in an effort to support those affected by the bushfires in Australia.

The quartet – Ellie McBrier, Kaizie O’Hagan, Brooke Murphy and Cassidy Blyth, from Abercromby PS – began fundraising recently to collect money to help with relief.

More than 1,600 firefighters were called in to battle the fires which have ravaged land and displaced thousands of people all over the country.

After seeing the devastation, the 11-year-old girls began brainstorming ideas and eventually came up with a competition to guess a stuffed animal’s birthday.

March 4 Page 14

IT WAS a day of celebration at the Bowmar Community Centre in Alloa last week as Clax 1400 gathered for their first birthday.

Volunteers and locals came together to celebrate the group’s one-year anniversary and for an awards presentation.

Those in attendance included the volunteers who have made the centre, which used to lie unused, into a thriving community space and a platform for learning, communication and growth.

Since the café opened just 12 months ago, there have been more than 2,000 people through the door for a roll, tea or coffee and a chat.

March 4 Page 19

A DEDICATED Wee County teenager is hoping to leave a lasting legacy for future generations following her anti-bullying work.

Alloa Academy’s Susie Lambert, who was named Clackmannanshire Young Citizen of the Year 2019 at a ceremony last week, humbly insists the award is not just for her, but a whole team of young people involved.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

The pupil’s dedication, commitment and contribution throughout last year was key to the success of the school’s Anti-Bullying Group, especially when it came to the preparation and delivery of events.

Susie also chairs the local youth council and collected her accolade from Provost Tina Murphy at Clackmannanshire Council’s Kilncraigs HQ last Tuesday, March 10.

March 18 Page 10


A YOUTH charity aiming to reduce social isolation in the Wee County is innovating to keep some activities going under the coronavirus lockdown.

Connect Alloa has been running youth nights in the town, but like many aspects of usual life, their activities have been disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Despite the lockdown, Connect Alloa is continuing some activities on an online platform.

The charity now runs its very own server on the Discord desktop and smartphone application, where young people can come together for a few hours for text, voice and video chats.

April 1 Page 10

CHILDREN of Wee County-based care staff have been drawing pictures and making cards for the elderly to bring smiles to faces during the difficult coronavirus lockdown.

Families of Mears care workers, who support locals to remain living independently at home, are helping to connect with service users in new ways after social distancing rules came into force.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

Susan McCormack, manager in Clackmannanshire, said: “It’s just a small connection with the outside world that can mean a lot in the long days ahead.

“The response from local children has been fantastic and the result is that those service users who have been fortunate to receive a card or a drawing, have asked that these cards and pictures keep coming in.”

April 8 Page 6

A CLACKMANNAN boy has raised more than £500 for charity by completing five kilometre runs every day for five consecutive days.

Coby Taylor finished his final run on Friday, April 24, and has smashed his target of raising £100 for the Social Bite charity in the process.

The nine-year-old, who is a member of the Wee County Harriers’ Juniors section, was motivated by his desire to “do something good” for others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coby’s dad, Martin Taylor, told the Advertiser: “He did well – he was really pleased.”

April 29 Page 5


A WEE COUNTY teen was treated to a birthday he’ll never forget after his family, friends and neighbours held a drive-by parade outside his home to mark the big day.

Kerry Keenan secretly arranged the event for her son Declan in the lead up to his 14th birthday on Saturday, April 25.

Kerry said: “There were family and a few others that wanted to wish him a happy birthday – such as friends from school.

“All my neighbours came out and they were all clapping and cheering. I was quite emotional; I just couldn’t believe what was going on and the people that he was seeing.

“He told me at the end that he’ll never forget that – it was his best birthday so far, he said.”

May 6 Page 3

REFUGEES settled in the Wee County were keen to give back by surprising key workers with tasty treats last week.

More than a dozen Syrian families came together as a group to deliver food to local police as well as GP practices.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

Dalil Othman, one of the people leading the initiative, told the Advertiser: “We are just trying to help a little at this time because it is a hard time for everybody, and we think the police and other [key workers] do a hard job and spend a lot of time on the job.

“This is just to give them a thank you from us.”

May 13 Page 7

A COMMUNITY drive to dress up a prominent Tillicoultry tree is spreading cheer and joy during the coronavirus lockdown.

Now known as the Pom Pom Tree, children and adults have been contributing over the past week to spruce up the sight on Murray Square.

Tillicoultry mum Charlaine Dunham planted the seed when she shared on social media the idea to dress the tree up in a bid to bring some cheer to people out on their daily walks.

It is also providing an activity for children and families, who have been busy making pom poms.

May 20 Page 5


TWO Sauchie sisters have raised hundreds of pounds for good causes with their crafty creations.

Sophie and Elise Hanna started painting and decorating rocks with fun designs during the lockdown, and giving them away in return for donations.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

Some people placed orders for them online, and others collected them from the sisters’ garden at their home in the Wee County.

The duo have now raised £430 – and the plan is to donate the money, splitting it between the NHS and Strathcarron Hospice.

June 3 Page 9

A WEE COUNTY woman has been touring the car parks of care homes in Clackmannanshire and beyond to entertain residents and staff during lockdown.

Debbie Muirhead has so far completed at least 34 gigs at 19 different homes since she first started performing to residents in mid-April.

These include Parklands Care Home in Alloa, Beechwood Park Care Home in Sauchie, and Bedford Court retirement housing – also in Alloa.

The 51-year-old, from Tillicoultry, is often helped by her fiancé Paul, and friend Chris during the performances.

June 24 Page 4

THE Wee County’s famous Elvis impersonator last week surprised residents at a Stirling care home with a gig on the street.

Johnny Lee Memphis was outside Wallace View Care Home on Monday, June 1, to uplift spirits and entertain the residents in blistering sunshine.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

The socially distanced show delighted people at the care home as well as the neighbours with all the classics such as Blue Suede Shoes.

Staff joined in too by dressing up for the hit-song Jailhouse Rock while families living nearby were out dancing in their front gardens.

June 10 Page 4