I wanted to wish you every happiness this Christmas. As the shopping days run out and Christmas rushes towards us, I can’t wait. I love Christmas.
With over 30 towns and villages in Don Valley, and a busy year in parliament (plus a general election in the middle), I spend a lot of my year running from place to place to support community events, visit interesting projects or businesses or to hold surgeries. With a busy schedule, it is easy to not make the time for family and friends.
For me, Christmas is special. It has a big message for us all, however, busy we are. That message is: “Stop. Family time.” The Christmas holiday gives me a chance to get together with family, catch up with a few friends, and recharge the batteries for another busy year. Maybe you have a routine or a family commitment that tells you Christmas has begun. For me it is Christmas Eve, when a local church choir comes round carol singing. It is a great excuse for mulled wine and a sing song.
Christmas is also when we think of others. I think of those people who keep our services working, our hospitals open and our roads safe; during the coldest weather. I think of those who run refuges; food banks and Christmas lunch clubs. This is the time not to forget the lonely, those with money worries; the children in care or in hospital. And it reminds me that we all need to keep well and keep warm during the cold spell.
I want to thank all those people who put something back into our community. There are countless people who volunteer their time to run community centres, sports and young peoples’ organisations, libraries and drop in clubs, community gardens and community cafes; and environmental groups – litter picking, planting flower beds, creating walks and restoring beauty spots. Our churches and parish councils all rely on dedicated volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of hours that go unnoticed, as we just take for granted the many things they provide.
And I want to thank those people who put on events to make us proud of where we live, and remember our past. Among my highlights this year, were the Conisbrough Light up the Castle events over remembrance weekend. The roll call of the fallen, projected on the castle walls reminded us that the two world wars left their mark on every community. Another highlight was the Illuminate 400 event which marked the journey of ordinary people from Austerfield and beyond to the New World on the Mayflower 400 years ago. Those pioneers formed the first self-governing colony in what would become the United States. Those two events reminded me that turning points in history – including wars – are shaped not just by a few great historical figures, but by many ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
It is also nice to contribute to something that makes a big difference. In October, I joined the Doncaster Ramblers on a walk around Tickhill in support of Children in need. It was a wonderful morning.
So, to all those people who make our communities tick, the unmentioned heroes who make a small difference in their town, village or neighbourhood, a big THANK YOU! And if you have an event coming up you wish to publicise, let me know and I will put details on my website.
In 2017, I completed 20 years representing the towns, villages and hamlets of Don Valley and it is the feedback I get from our communities, the people who make things happen, that continues to make my job worthwhile.
Enjoy your Christmas holiday and I hope we meet in 2018.