THE countdown to Christmas has officially begun in Helensburgh after hundreds of people turned out to see Santa and his little helpers switch on the festive lights in the town centre at the weekend.

Vivien Dance, of the Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust which organised the event, said it was a great way to end a fairly hard week getting everything ready.

She added: “We were overwhelmed by the support on the day, the biggest crowd to gather for an afternoon in Colquhoun Square since its renovation.

“It was wonderful to see so many families and young children in the town and, as Santa said, the atmosphere was so warm and friendly. It was a pleasure to be in Helensburgh and see so many people enjoying the moment when the lights came on. Thank you all for coming and for giving the volunteers such a boost with your enthusiasm.

“We will do our best to build on the success of the switch-on next year and, on behalf of the community, thanks to our sponsors the Helensburgh and District Round Table, Viton Services Ltd, and the Terrace Café, who made the event possible.

“Many thanks also to everyone who has taken the time to congratulate our volunteers on the Christmas lights. We really are pleased with them this year, and hope they add to the festive feeling around the town for the next seven weeks.”