Few of us will miss 2020. As one of the most difficult years most of us can remember draws to a close, we will inevitably reflect on the anxiety it has brought, the frustration of ruined plans, including for Christmas itself, perhaps the loss of loved ones and the separation from those we care about. Worse still, we are not only looking back on these things, we are still experiencing them.
As with everyone else, my job has had to be done differently this year and I am grateful to my team for adapting to ever-changing circumstances so that we are still able to help constituents wherever we can. I want to thank too all those who have done more this year than we or even they believed would be possible under immense and sustained pressure. Those who work in the NHS and social care of course, but also teachers and school staff, delivery drivers and logistics workers, police officers and so many others who have kept essential services running when we have most needed them.
For many, Christmas is a time of religious significance, but I believe that for many more it is also a time of joy, of fellowship and of hope. It may feel as though all those things are in short supply this year, but I think they are there to be found if you look for them. Although it has undoubtedly had its challenges, more time spent at home with our immediate families has also brought the joy of more shared and enjoyed together, and often stronger relationships. Although physical company has regularly been denied us, we have seen those restrictions spark great ingenuity in communication by other means and so many practical demonstrations of the kindness of strangers to our neighbours in need. And there is always hope to be found. The development of vaccines for the COVID 19 virus will rank as one of the greatest international scientific efforts in our shared history, with the world’s first vaccination taking place in one of our local hospitals. The development of a so-called Mega Lab in Leamington Spa is not just a substantial part of the response to the pandemic but a lasting contribution from our area to medical science. There is hope too in every act of heroism, warmth and dedication shown by those who care for the suffering, and in our collective determination to protect the most vulnerable among us even when it compromises our own freedoms. This year has tested us all, but it has also shown us what we are collectively capable of. There should be some pride in that too.
So, in whatever way you are able to enjoy it, I wish you a peaceful and hopeful Christmas, and a happier and healthier New Year.