WITH Christmas Day just five weeks away Helensburgh is now officially in the festive spirit after the town's lights display was turned on.

Organised once again by the volunteers of the Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust (HFLCT), the decorations were lit up on Monday evening thanks to two young helpers, Blake Stephenson and Mylo MacDonald, who had the honour of pushing the plunger during the big switch on.

Blake, 3, is the granddaughter of Gladys Stephenson whose Knit and Natter group made a generous donation to the trust's funding appeal and are still fund-raising for the project, and Mylo, 7, is the grandson of Pauline and Iain Macdonald, two of the hardworking 'elves' who carried out most of the repairs on the lights this year to ensure they were ready for installation.

As we reported in last week's Advertiser, the 35-foot fir tree in Colquhoun Square, nicknamed 'Douglas', was donated by Luss Estates and placed in situ thanks to a community effort involving local firms and volunteers.

Vivien Dance from the HFLCT praised the community spirit which has carried the 2020 project during a testing time for all.

She said: "The pictures tell the real story of the project; the look on the wee faces of Blake and Mylo when the magic plunger lit up the tree and the square made all the hard work worthwhile.

"The Helensburgh 'elves' hope that the same look is there on lots of faces over the eight weeks that the lights twinkle away.

"This year’s lights project has been extremely challenging, a Santa understatement if ever there was one, but the people and businesses of Helensburgh have rallied round to help the 'elves' in many ways.

"Businesses have given support by donating in cash or kind in spite of times being very tough for them this year and two very significant donations from John Fraser of DCF Joiners and Builders, a loyal supporter of the lights for the last decade, and Heron Bros, main contractors for the waterfront project, were a tremendous boost to the funding appeal.

"The 'elves' were delighted to have site manager, Jamie Lyon, of Heron Bros come along to watch Blake and Mylo in action lighting up the town."

The trust is still in need of donations to ensure they can afford the cost of taking down the decorations in mid-January: if you'd like to help the funding appeal you can hand in your donation to the Terrace café in Colquhoun Square, where you will find Santa’s 'Elfare' unit; pay direct to the bank account (Helensburgh Festive Lights at RBS: sort code 832303, account number 00624980), or text 'Xmas' to 70490 to donate a minimum of £5.

Mrs Dance added: "The 'elves' will be at the Christmas lights market in the square on Saturday (November 21) and hope to raise some extra funds from their stall.

"After that they will retire to the grotto to put their feet up as they need to be ready to help Santa, a very special key worker, sprinkle his magic on Christmas Eve."