It's been another year to remember in Renfrewshire and we're taking a look back at what was happening across the area between July and December.

Do you remember these stories?


Houston pensioner left fuming over garden waste fee

The Gazette: John McDonald believes he should be exempt from paying Renfrewshire Council’s new garden waste chargeJohn McDonald believes he should be exempt from paying Renfrewshire Council’s new garden waste charge (Image: Newsquest)

A Houston man criticised Renfrewshire Council after being told he'd need to buy a garden waste permit to dispose of leaves that "aren't his."

John McDonald, 71, believed he shouldn't have to pay a new £40 fee to continue using his brown bin to clear up piles of leaves that get blown into his garden from nearby woodland.

He said he had to gather up around "six brown bin loads" of leaves each year, which was "difficult" to deal with.

However, due to the new permit scheme, John had to pay to keep using his brown bin.

John, who has lived in his Houston home for 40 years, claimed the council hadn't defined exactly what garden waste is.

He added: "These leaves are from a forest outwith my garden. They aren't my garden waste."

However, council chiefs defended their position.

A spokesperson said: "Residents who wish to use their brown bin to recycle garden waste, such as leaves or grass cuttings, are required to purchase a permit to continue to receive a collection."


Furious resident driven up the pole by 'eyesore'

The Gazette: Carole Little demanded the removal of a giant brown telephone pole which has been erected outside her homeCarole Little demanded the removal of a giant brown telephone pole which has been erected outside her home (Image: Newsquest)

A fed-up woman hit out at Renfrewshire Council and BT Openreach after an "ugly" telephone pole was erected directly in front of her house.

Carole Little said the pole was installed without her being consulted or informed and called for it to be removed immediately.

The 58-year-old, who has lived at her home in St Ninians Road, Paisley, since 2008, contacted the council to complain and was told to get in touch with the environmental health department.

She said: "They said there's nothing much they can do. They told me to try another number, which I did, but I’ve never heard anything back."

Carole also contacted BT Openreach, without success.

She branded the new addition to her street as "an absolute eyesore."

"It's massive," she added. "If you look on my street, there’s nothing but poles. However, it's all lights and then, in the middle of them, you have this massive, ugly pole.

A council spokesperson said: "Telecoms masts are considered against the relevant planning legislation and, as such, the mast in question benefits from permitted development rights."


'Wee wonders' take world of golf by storm

The Gazette: Evan Macaulay and his younger sibling LucasEvan Macaulay and his younger sibling Lucas (Image: Newsquest)

A talented pair of brothers made a big noise in the world of golf after earning the chance to compete on a global stage in America.

Evan Macaulay and younger sibling Lucas, from Paisley, won their respective age categories at the Wee Wonders British Championships, in North Berwick.

Their reward was a trip to America in 2024, where they will compete in the US Kids Golf World Championships.

Past players of the British tournament include Scottish ace Robert MacIntyre, who sent the boys a message to congratulate them on their success, as well as fellow Ryder Cup stars Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton.

The youngsters will be joined on their trip to the famous Pinehurst course, in North Carolina, by proud parents Callum and Clare-Marie.

Callum, 39, told The Gazette: "The boys are really close and are very supportive of each other. They try to encourage each other and they play so much golf together as well, so it’s good."

"We celebrated in the way that the two boys would want to celebrate anything...we went to McDonald’s."


Royal National Mòd returns to Paisley for first time in decade

The Gazette: The Royal National Mòd provided a welcome boost for the Renfrewshire economyThe Royal National Mòd provided a welcome boost for the Renfrewshire economy (Image: Newsquest)

Visitors from across Scotland and beyond flocked to Renfrewshire for the Royal National Mòd.

The festival, which brings together fans of Gaelic music and culture, returned to the area for the first time in a decade.

A wide range of performances, recitals and cultural activities were on offer over the nine days of the festival.

The event saw approximately 8,000 visitors gather in Paisley, and was estimated to have generated an excess of £2 million for the local economy.

The programme included 200 competitions, involving some 2,000 participants, which were being held in more than 20 venues across Renfrewshire.

Award-winning folk band Breabach headlined the opening night concert, which was the first full-scale event to take place at Paisley Town Hall since it reopened after a multi-million pound refurbishment.

The iconic building was also chosen to host musical performances from local groups such as Kilbarchan Pipe Band, the Renfrewshire Schools Pipe Band and the Fèis Phàislig arts organisation, which promotes interest, education and participation in the traditional arts and Gaelic culture across the local area.


Brothers recall adventures after completing trek along US coast

The Gazette: Extreme conditions made the marathon trek tricky for Jack and Chris MurphyExtreme conditions made the marathon trek tricky for Jack and Chris Murphy (Image: Newsquest)

An adventurous Bridge of Weir man told of how he pushed himself to the limit after tackling a massive 153-day hike across the west coast of America.

In May, Chris embarked on a 2,500-mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail – a hiking and equestrian route that stretches all the way from the US-Mexico border to the US-Canada border, offering some spectacular sights along the way.

In mid-July, Chris was joined by his 29-year-old brother Jack for the second half of the gruelling trek.

While camping, the brothers had to regularly deal with wildlife approaching their tent during the night.

Jack recalled: "You could hear bears breaking branches and breathing heavily right outside your tent."

The trip eventually came to an end in mid-October after they successfully completed the Sierra mountain range, also in California.

Chris said: "I'm very happy we finished there and got to stop at Mount Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the US."

The brothers used the trek as an opportunity to raise thousands of pounds for Diabetes UK.


Johnstone becomes winter wonderland during Christmas lights switch-on event

The Gazette: Provost Lorraine Cameron, Amelia and Santa switched on the Christmas lights in JohnstoneProvost Lorraine Cameron, Amelia and Santa switched on the Christmas lights in Johnstone (Image: Supplied)

Johnstone's Houston Square was transformed into a winter wonderland on Saturday afternoon as the Christmas lights were switched on in the town.

Local acts and DJs from Johnstone Sound kept the crowds entertained from the snowy square’s bandstand, while the funfair kept the thrill seekers busy.

There was fun for all the family on offer, such as St Vincent’s Hospice Christmas Market, face painting, glitter tattoos, street entertainers and a giant snow globe.

Santa was also in his grotto to find out what the children of Johnstone were hoping to get in their stockings this year.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron was joined by competition winner Amelia, from Houston Primary, to push the button and light up the town. 

Provost Cameron said: "It was great to see so many people come along and enjoy the celebration in Johnstone this year. 

"The snowy square really added to the festive cheer and helped get everyone in the holiday spirit.

"This year I was joined by Amelia and I hope she had a lovely day out with her family."