PEOPLE from near and far headed for Lochwinnoch to have their day lit up by the Olympic torch.
Cheering throngs lined the streets as the tiny village’s population swelled to almost four times its usual size.
Among the ecstatic 9,000-strong crowd were the McCall family, who made a 170-mile sprint to see Johnstone teenager Natalie Still and the other torchbearers blaze a trail along the High Street.
Duncan McCall, 35, was joined by his wife Aileen, also 35, and eight-year-old daughter Aela.
And the graphic designer, who lives in Newcastle, insisted it was a day to remember.
Duncan said: “I’m from Lochwinnoch originally and, when we heard the torch was going to be coming through the village, we decided we had to be here.
“Aileen’s parents live right at the top of the hill coming out of the village, so we positioned ourselves here and got a great view of the crowds and the runners.
“It’s been a tremendous day.”
Aileen added: “The people who pulled all of this together deserve a gold medal themselves because so much hard work must have gone into it.
“I’m pleased their efforts have really paid off. It was great fun.”
Natalie – wearing a sporty white tracksuit – may have been the star of the show but, as far as little Aela was concerned, the torchbearer had to share top billing with the boys in blue.
“I thought the day was great,” said Aela. “I’ve been to Lochwinnoch to visit a few times but I’ve never seen anything like this.
“I really liked seeing the torch – and all the police!”
Michael Uppington, 21, also hails from Lochwinnoch but now lives in Nottingham.
And he too said the trip home was one not to be missed.
Michael added: “I’ve never seen so many people in Lochwinnoch in my life. It’s a long journey back from Nottingham but it’s been well worth it.”
Paisley pensioner Evelyn Arnott, 71, had a shorter journey to make but enjoyed her day out just as much.
“What a fantastic day,” she said. “We got here at 11.30am after hopping on the train from Paisley.
“It’s great to have these things come to somewhere like Lochwinnoch, especially for the children. You look at their faces and every one of them is beaming.
“They are all waving their flags and having a great time – it’s a day they will never forget.”
There was disappointment for Evelyn’s pal Isabell Muir, 72, as she missed out on the chance to see her grandson Iain taking part in the parade as it snaked its way through Lochwinnoch.
However, after husband David taped the whole thing, Renfrew woman Isabell hopes to catch a glimpse of the Newmains Primary pupil on their very own action replay!
She said: “Iain was in the parade and we spent all afternoon trying to pick him out – but it was so busy that we missed him.
“David has taped the whole thing, so we will have to sit through it again and see if we can pick him out.
“It’s a real family affair for us as my niece Sandra Bowers, who is a successful Scottish athlete from Barrhead, is running with the Olympic torch down in Salisbury later this summer.
“We are proud as punch of both her and Iain.”
John Wilson, who has run the village bakery in Lochwinnoch with his wife Nancy for the past 35 years, enjoyed a bumper day as he sold hot rolls to the crowds.
“It was a great day for the village and everyone has thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” he said. “We’ve been busy all day and things only calmed down once the torch went past and the crowds dispersed.
“It was certainly an experience. I just wish they’d bring it back every Saturday!”