At the outset, I would like to wish my constituents a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you find time to rest and recharge for the year ahead, as well as enjoying the festivities with family and friends, and I wish you every success in 2024.

Christmas can be a challenging time for many people for various reasons. This is where the importance of community comes into play, as we all have a job to do when it comes to helping look out for neighbours, family and friends. I pay special tribute to our community organisations and groups who do this day in, day out, and I want to thank all the volunteers for their dedication.

Last month, I was invited to pipe at a St. Andrew’s event in St. Ninians Church Hall in Gourock. This was the first time they’d organised such an event and was also the first time the hall had been used since the COVID-19 pandemic. It was nonetheless an excellent event with people of all ages in attendance.

One of the things that struck me was the pleasure people had in coming together to enjoy a social evening. The majority of those in attendance were a number of years older than myself, but to see people from various generations socialising and having a good time together, was heart-warming. It was a perfect example of the community continuing to re-build, and I’ve been pleased to see so many other local events take place in recent months.

This Christmas will be my first after losing my mum earlier in the year. It will be strange and difficult but I recognise how blessed I have been to have had such a wonderful mother. There will be other households across Inverclyde who will, likewise, be missing a loved one this year. It’s important to remember that while our grief and sadness is valid, we should do what we can to remember the many happy and positive memories we have of them.