TRANENT Gala Committee is saying goodbye to two long-serving stalwarts as its dedicated chairwoman and secretary, Wilna Knox and Paula Knox-Waugh, step down.

The mother-and-daughter duo have been pillars of the committee for over eight years, with Tranent Gala becoming the most anticipated event in the town’s calendar.

Paula told the Courier: “We joined up together eight years ago, but in different roles than we are now.

“We actually went along because we had heard that the gala wouldn’t happen if more people didn’t join the committee.

“The chair was stepping down and Colin McGinn was made new chair, mum was made secretary and I was made crowning convener.

“We left after the meeting looking at each other thinking: ‘What just happened?’

“We had only come along to help and left with three positions on the board!

“It’s been good fun, though, and we are still involved in other projects in the town.

“We’ve received some lovely messages from people saying thank you and just some really nice things.”

Paula and her mother Wilna both decided that, due to personal health issues, neither of them were able to carry on in their positions on the committee.

Paula said: “Mum had a fall recently and I already have rheumatoid arthritis and was in hospital with an illness recently, so everything was getting a bit much.

“I will still be involved with the Picnic in Polson, which will raise money for the gala but also for the dementia-friendly Garden of Reflection, which I am also involved in.”

Paula will be finishing up after this year’s Winter Wonderland, where she always has a special role to play.

She said: “I always play Santa’s Little Helper at the Winter Wonderland.

“I wasn’t going to do it this year, but the other committee members said that I couldn’t let down Santa, so I’ve decided to do it one last time, then step down.

“We’ll still be around to help out. Anything the committee needs, we’ll be there.

“We have such a brilliant gala committee, really dedicated. We’re all really good friends.”

Wilna added: “We know the gala will continue being the best and are delighted that Derek Ross has stepped into the role as chair and shall be officially voted in at the gala AGM in November.

“Also, long-standing committee member George Herkes will be voted in as vice-chair and Lee McClung as secretary, so Tranent Gala is in safe hands.”

Former gala chairman and current ward councillor Colin McGinn added: “Eight years ago when we all signed up, Wilna and Paula really rose to the challenge.

“They really have been fantastic; between them they were instrumental in transforming the gala.

“Over their time, their devotion and dedication has been unmatched.”

The community has responded with warm gratitude to the duo, with ward councillor Gordon Mackett saying: “I would like to thank both Wilna and Paula for all they have done for Tranent Gala over the years; their commitment and enthusiasm have been unbelievable and outstanding.

“I wish them both the very best for the future.”