AS THE year comes to an end, it is fair to say 2023 was a year full of ups and downs.

Bills and energy prices continued to soar as the cost-of-living crisis swept the country but despite this, community spirit remained ever prevalent in the Wee County.

Residents poured their hearts out to the causes that mattered most to them, proving that no matter how dark things got, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel.


FLOOD protection volunteers in the Wee County were called to action in Alva amid heavy rainfall at the start of January.

Members of the Alva Community Resilience Team were alerted to a rapid rise in the water levels at Alva Burn as early as 7am.

They attended in a number of areas with volunteers – including a house which was at risk of water damage.

Member Bryan Denny said: “Neighbours and volunteers helped to sweep the water from the property saving it from any water damage.”

THE generosity of Advertiser readers was recognised and appreciated after bag-loads of toys were donated as part of a festive appeal.

The Wee County once again proved it has a big heart after the Advertiser teamed up with The Gate charity and Sauchie Active8 to ensure every child in the area woke up to a present waiting under the tree on Christmas Day.

JANUARY: The Wee County showed its generosity with bagloads of toys donated as part of the gift drive.

JANUARY: The Wee County showed its generosity with bagloads of toys donated as part of the gift drive.

Speaking after the dust settled on what has been an incredibly busy Christmas period, Lesley McAllenan, foodbank development co-ordinator at The Gate, thanked all involved.

“A huge thank you to everyone who put their hands in their pockets and went out and bought gifts for kids that they don’t know,” Lesley said.

THE Wee County displayed extreme levels of kindness and generosity as the community came together to help support a family after a devastating house fire.

Residents turned out in their numbers to help provide kitchen appliances and clothes following an appeal launched by Forth Valley Radio.

Fortunately, nobody was harmed in the blaze, but it was reported that all their possessions were destroyed, leaving them with virtually nothing.

FV Radio’s Stephen McFarlane said: “The whole community has just come together fantastically well, we just wanted to help a family in need.”


HIGHLY-pathogenic avian influenza was identified in Clackmannan with restrictions put in place to limit the spread.

Bird flu was confirmed in the town on January 24 as a disease control zone was put in place.

The 3km surveillance zone extended to Kennet in the east and parts of Alloa and Sauchie in the west.

A FORMER councillor who faithfully served his community for more than three decades received the highest honour in the Wee County.

Current elected representatives unanimously agreed to confer the Freedom of Clackmannanshire on Derek Stewart, who was first elected in May 1988 and retired from public office in 2022.

FEBRUARY: Derek Stewart was awarded the Freedom of Clackmannanshire

FEBRUARY: Derek Stewart was awarded the Freedom of Clackmannanshire

A motion calling for the honour was laid in front of colleagues by Cllr Craig Holden at a full meeting on Thursday, February 2.

He said: “I think by doing this for Cllr Stewart we are not only recognising the exceptional contribution he has made, but we are also in our own way recognising the contributions of other councillors have made in the past as well.”

A GROUP was launched in the Wee County to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ adults in the area.

The Lavender Room offered a safe space for the entire diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual community in Clacks and the wider Forth Valley region, meeting for the first time on Wednesday, February 15.

The group is the brainchild of Menstrie artist and youth worker Lou Carberry, who has benefitted from the Clax LGBT youth group, at the Bowmar Centre, since the age of 13.

They told the Advertiser: “I’m trying to create that same sense of safety and community I got from that group from a young age, for vulnerable adults because I know that there’s a lot of people within this community that don’t have a safety net, that don’t have anybody that understands the LGBTQ+ community.”


DEMOLITION of an iconic Wee County institution began this month, as work to remove the Alloa Leisure Bowl began on March 27.

It came three years after the building closed to the public, having served the Clacks community for more than three decades.

MARCH: Demolition of Alloas Leisure Bowl began.

MARCH: Demolition of Alloa's Leisure Bowl began.

Once the building is demolished, the site will be left with an ash or gravel level surface and will be marketed for future development.

Over the years, the leisure bowl was home to gyms, a popular indoor bowling rink and a café where many socialised.

A FAMILY-RUN pub in the Hillfoots was rewarded for embracing real ale.

Proprietors Anne and John Black and their daughters were recognised with the New Real Ale Pub of the Year 2022 award, having work together with enthusiasts and brewers in the past 12 months.

Tillicoultry man and CAMRA member Tony Lamb was among some 16 members who went along to deliver the accolade.

He added: “The reception you get from the family, who owned it for 42 years – they are just absolutely lovely, do they make you feel so very welcome.”


AN ALLOA man took strength from heartache to complete a boxing match and a half marathon within a weekend in memory of his late grandad.

David James McNaughton raised £220 and counting for Cancer Research UK in the process, tackling an Ultra White Collar Boxing (UWCB) match on Saturday, March 11, before completing Alloa Half Marathon the next morning.

He revealed that the double effort was dedicated to his late granddad Archie MacDonald, who sadly passed away last month after battling cancer.

David said: “I wanted to give him one last wee fight to watch before he passed, but unfortunately, he passed before the fight happened, so I've done it in memory of my pops.”

ELDERLY residents were left terrified as a mob of anti-social youngsters breached the security of a dementia-friendly housing development in Alloa and ran amok.

One resident is said to have been threatened with a knife on Monday, March 20, as a nuisance campaign escalated at Primrose Place in the town.

Problems started on the weekend with police attending on Sunday before things escalated the next night.

Community Inspector Alex Hatrick said: "Police attended and local community officers are continuing with enquiries to identify the youths responsible and are liaising with local residents.”




A GUILD which has been striving to improve everyday life for working women has folded in the Wee County after more than 100 years.

The last members of Newtonshaw Co-op Society Women's Guild said their goodbyes during a lunch at the Royal Oak in Alloa on Monday, April 3, marking 112 years of the society.

Guild secretary Marlene McIntosh explained that at a meeting in Glasgow, it was decided all five remaining branches, two in Ayrshire and the same in Fife along with the one in Sauchie, would be closed.

Mrs McIntosh told the Advertiser: “Oh, it's going to be missed, it's been around for 112 years – some of our members have been in it for 50, 60 years, they went to the guild with their mothers and they are in their 80s now.”


LONG-SERVING staff were left worried about retirement plans at an Alloa-based national charity, according to UNISON.

The trade union raised concerns over Scottish Autism plans to withdraw from the Falkirk Local Government Pension Scheme, saying it will have the worst affect on the longest-serving staff at the charity.

It is not known what proportion of staff may be affected, but it is understood the vast majority of the workforce will not be impacted by the change as no new members have been added to it since 2017.

David O’Connor, UNISON regional organiser, said: “UNISON have requested the employer explain their business case for the proposals and show their plans are legal."

AN ALLOA child worker made her debut on the small screen as she featured in a BBC show about Scotland's secret singers airing this week.

Shauna Angus has been selected to appear on Scotland Sings, a show about extraordinary singers throughout the country who have hidden their talents for so long.

She told the Advertiser: "My passion is singing and performing; I did it all through school and picked a music teacher for my career.

"It's been such an inspiring journey for myself."


ONE of Alloa's oldest churches has announced that the Congregation will be dissolved, owing to a steady decline in numbers over the past few years.

Moncrieff United Free Church of Scotland has decided that they shall close the church, with the last service due to take place in June.

John Forrest, session clerk, explained that congregation numbers have waned in recent years and that it is no longer practical to continue operating.

He said: "It's a very sad decision – a lot of us will be pretty unhappy about it but we reckoned it was the pragmatic thing to do."


A WEE COUNTY school has been crowned the best breakfast club in Scotland in the annual Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Awards.

Clackmannanshire Secondary School Support service (CSSS) was awarded a £1000 cash prize for their morning meals scheme, which sees around 25 children attend before school.

Julie-Anne Miller, head teacher at CSSS, said: “We are delighted to be awarded the best breakfast club in Scotland.

“Our club provides such important provision for our students – it gives pupils an opportunity to connect to their school community at the start of the day and prepares them for learning.”

HISTORY was made when commercial shipping returned to Clackmannanshire for the first time in some 60 years.

Following 18 months of detailed planning, a complex operation saw the Terra Marique deliver a 187-tonne cold box, measuring 57.6 metres in length, for an air separation plant by O-I Glassworks in Alloa.

It was a snug fit as the unique vessel, accompanied by tugs Coastworker and Shoalbuster, transited under the Kincardine and Clackmannanshire bridges to make the first of five deliveries on Wednesday, May 3.

Des Nott, project manager at logistics company Kestrel which orchestrated the delivery, told the Advertiser: “This has been a challenge, from the first execution we've learnt a lot about what to expect and what not to expect.”


THE year kicked off with some good news as a Wee County woman received a British Empire Medal for her services to charity.

Kit Gow was up for her honour due to her work as chair of the fundraising group Opening More Doors, which worked to secure tens of thousands of pounds for good causes.

MAY: Kit Gow receives her British Empire Medal from Lord Lieutenant Johnny Stewart. Pictures by Pictures courtesy of Craig Dunbar/Clackmannanshire Lieutenancy.

MAY: Kit Gow receives her British Empire Medal from Lord Lieutenant Johnny Stewart. Pictures by Pictures courtesy of Craig Dunbar/Clackmannanshire Lieutenancy.

On receiving her award in May, Kit said: “It’s just lovely that so many people appreciated it.

“We will go on to do things because that’s what we do and really, it’s anything to be helpful.”

FREE charging ended for owners of electric vehicles in the Wee County.

Clackmannanshire Council agreed tariffs for EV charging points across its public network with the changes to come into force later this year.

Cllr Fiona Law, spokesperson for the environment and net zero, pointed out the changes were called for by residents at climate change forums.

She said after the meeting: “Residents brought up the need to introduce charging tariffs, and electric vehicle owners themselves highlighted the need for overstay charges."

IT WAS a game too far for Alloa as they lost out on a spot in the Championship playoff final, losing 5-2 (5-3 on aggregate) to Hamilton Academical.

The Wasps headed to South Lanarkshire with a one-goal advantage, having beaten Accies 1-0 in the first leg on Tuesday, May 9.

“We got ourselves into a brilliant position," Rice said after the match. "We were 2-0 up and it was quite comfortable, I thought we were comfortable.

“All credit to the team though, they gave it everything they had. It was just a game too far and a day too far with certain things that didn’t go our way.”


AN AUSTRALIAN with familial links to the Wee County asked keen historians in Clacks to help him identify a building his family once lived in.

Malcolm Syme lives just outside Perth, Australia, and has traced ancestry back to his great uncle John Syme, who was known to live in Alloa in the 18th century.

Malcolm called upon those with sound knowledge of the area to help him find out more about his ancestors and the lives they lived in Alloa.

He said: “I’m really in the dark here so I thought maybe I’d message the Advertiser and fling it out into the wide world and see what happens.”

TRADERS in Alva said they are continuing to count the cost of improvement works in the town with more road closures to come.

Disgruntled shop owners spoke out over Stirling Street improvement works which hit trade last year when four weeks of weekend road closures went ahead as part of plans to regenerate and refurbish the village's main stretch.

JUNE: Disgruntled shopkeepers say trade has never returned since last years roadworks with another weekend of road closures to come.

JUNE: Disgruntled shopkeepers say trade has never returned since last year's roadworks with another weekend of road closures to come.

Works to rectify the issue meant more road closures and diversions on Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, or the following weekend if the weather is bad.

David Hunter, who runs Day today in Alva, told the Advertiser: “A lot of the trade has never come back because people change their habits going to and from work and every trader up the street will tell you that trade has never picked up to pre-roadwork levels.”

A CLACKS composer had one of his original pieces picked up by an American music publisher.

Paul Jelfs, from Alva, had his track Another Day of Rain selected by publisher MPath Tracks for commercial release on their next instrumental album.

Another Day of Rain is a solo piano piece, a departure from Paul’s usual compositions, and came about as a way for him to express his feeling about mental health issues.

He said: “Writing alone can be really challenging, and I would like to collaborate with another composer, with similar values and ideally locally.”

A CLACKS school previously recognised for developing a reading culture is set to lose its only librarian, due to cuts.

In a letter, the Alloa Academy headteacher explained to parents and carers there has been a “shift in the way students access books”.

In a letter to parents and carers, seen by the Advertiser, Alloa Academy headteacher Steven McGuckin wrote: “Over the years, we have noticed a shift in the way students access books and use this space.

“As a result, our school library is not being used as frequently as it once was.”