Shine a light or send a note of kindness this winter

In what has already been a dark year for most of us, you would be forgiven for feeling like pulling the duvet over your head and hibernating.

Sunday, 8th November 2020, 11:00 am
Light in the darkness...of a Covid winter is being spread by Alison Johnston's grandson, Dougal MacAllister (5) at his home near Haddington.
Light in the darkness...of a Covid winter is being spread by Alison Johnston's grandson, Dougal MacAllister (5) at his home near Haddington.

However, a Scottish grandmother and school pupils in Milngavie hope people will, instead, support their campaigns to spread a bit of cheer in communities across the country.

Alison Johnston (58) from North Berwick has launched Shine Bright Scotland, asking people to light candles, lanterns or fairy lights in their windows, gardens, shops and businesses.

The mum of three hopes it will lift the gloom of winter and bring much-needed light into all of our lives.

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Shine Bright Scotland...campaign was launched by Alison Johnston, who received a helping hand from her grandson Dougal MacAllister (5).

Alison said: “The springtime Covid-19 lockdown was bad enough – now people are facing months of restrictions amid the darkness of winter.

“I know just how tough it was for so many people, even though the spring of this year brought some of the nicest weather we have enjoyed.

“The thought of plunging into the dark of a Scottish winter with so little to look forward to is depressing for very many people.

“We want to encourage people to embrace the winter brightness of Scandinavian countries and create some light in our darkness.

Little Notes of Kindness...campaign was launched by pupils at The Glasgow Academy’s Milngavie campus to help spread a wee bit of joy this winter.

“The clocks going back will mean long dark evenings, increasing the gloom and despair we’re all feeling.

“It would be wonderful for children to look back on this winter with happy memories – as the season of light, rather than the gloom of another lockdown.

“It will also remind grown-ups of brighter times to come.”

Shine Bright Scotland launched on November 1 and Alison is keen for people across the country to join in.

The idea was inspired by a visit to Scandinavia.

She explained: “A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Norway in the winter.

“It is amazing how they lift spirits in the Artic night with what they call hygge.

“There is no real translation for the word but it is a brightening of communities by the simple act of creating light for others in the dark.

“A lantern outside a shop, flats with candles or just bare bulbs burning in the window, it all adds up to a lifting of the spirits – giving the impression of hope.

“It doesn’t have to cost that much, as long as it is safe and bright.

“It is going to be so important to keep positive as we head to the next stage of the pandemic. I would love to see people across the country embrace this as a way to help bring communities together.

“It will bring the joy of Christmas lights all winter long for everyone.

“Then, hopefully, by the time clocks go forward next spring we will be on the way to recovery from this pandemic nightmare.”

To find out more, visit and post your creations on social media using #ShineBrightScotland.

Primary school pupils at The Glasgow Academy’s Milngavie campus also want to inspire hope and kindness this winter with their Little Notes of Kindness campaign.

Launched by the Prep 4 class, pupils will write to elderly residents at Abbotsford House who have been forced to shield during the ongoing pandemic, as well as those in the Milngavie Friendship Circle.

And the children are calling for all Scots to support the campaign by distributing their own little notes of kindness in their local communities.

Jean McMorran, head teacher, said: “In times of hardship, we must look after each other and should do all we can to support the most vulnerable within our communities. This is an important message we teach our pupils.

“Just a few kind words can bring so much joy to a person’s day. If we can inspire even just one smile then the campaign has been a success.

“Hopefully, the children’s sense of optimism and cheerful nature can be spread across the country with little notes of kindness.”

To support the campaign, send a letter to a chosen person or group with words that will help instil positivity.

For more details and advice, visit