AN American couple who are celebrating their first anniversary as pastors at the Church of Nazarene say they now feel an overwhelming 'sense of belonging' to the town.

Tasha Alison and Steve Fountain fell in love with Scotland during a vacation here a few years ago and now call Largs home.

In recent months, they have been providing free meals for the local foodbank during the COVID-19 pandemic and say that they have been impressed by the area's strength of community spirit.

The couple hail from Augusta where they had a small farm where they raised animals and taught classes on food preservation, foraging and organic practices.

Steve and Tasha sold the farm in 2017 and moved to Scotland, becoming involved with the church.

Tasha said: "Our focus in America had been to teach people how to grow healthy food.

"When we left America we sold everything. It was a good time to leave and start up a new life somewhere else.

"When we joined the Church of Nazarene in Glasgow, we were asked if we would fill in some Sundays at Largs, who were without a pastor at the time before being offered the job full time. "The first time we got off the train at Largs we got a really positive vibe as we saw an enormous rainbow right over the town. We loved the people here immediately and felt drawn to the community.

"It was kind of crazy but we just felt this was home right from the very beginning."

Upon moving to the local area, the couple quickly became friends with the late Ron Gilchrist, who was a pioneer in the benefits of producing food in community gardens.

Steve and Tasha, who were married in 2011, built up an offering of hospitality, help and holiness for the community. They continued the running of the popular community cafe within the church.

One of the first things they did was update the website to make it as easy and straight forward as possible for their largely elderly congregation to access their Sunday service. They have also set up prayer meetings via Zoom and regularly phone the church worshippers to check on their wellbeing.

They also set up a community cafe within the church promoting healthy food.

Steve said: "We reached out to the foodbank and asked if we could help provide healthy meals. We love the community and want to help in any way we can.

"One of the other great things about the town is how well all the churches work together. There is such good co-operation. I have never seen this anywhere in the world."

One of the hardships for Tasha is that she is not able to return to America to see her 102-year-old grandmother.

She said: "When we first moved to Scotland, we went back to the States fairly regularly.

"We tend to go back to once a year now to see Steve's family and I also get the opportunity to see my grandmother, who I miss very much."

The lockdown situation has given Steve and Tasha a chance to appreciate the beauty of Largs in their daily walks.

Tasha said: "It is such a beautiful place to live. We were so busy with the church we didn't really get the opportunity to go out so much and we are making so many interesting discoveries of beautiful places in the local area - it never ceases to amaze me."