It is usual for Members of Parliament at this time of year to reflect on the year and a suitable Christmas Message.
Certainly 2020 has been an extraordinary year. For me personally the past year has flown by; I was selected to stand for Aberconwy in November 2019, elected by you the voters who trusted me to be your Member of Parliament; my wife and I moved back to North Wales; I saw the Brexit Bill through and then within an extremely short period of time we were facing the largest pandemic that the world has seen for a century. I wonder how many of us had even heard of a “coronavirus” this time last year?
The effects however have become all too real and familiar. Some of you have lost dear friends and family to this dreadful disease. I have heard from many people who not only suffered loss but also could not grieve with other family members. Others were unable to spend time with relatives in their final days. Still others were caring for them in difficult and dangerous circumstances. These have been the most testing of times.
Some of us have been lucky enough to become familiar with Zoom/Facetime/Skype and the other technologies that have enabled us to keep in touch with our loved ones and friends. We were also blessed with very good weather during the first UK lockdown. I am sure this helped – but I am equally certain that every single one of us during this period has felt anxious, alone or worried for the future at some point.
However, I have also been in the privileged position to see every community in Aberconwy demonstrate care, compassion and to offer support or friendship to those who have been alone. There are simply too many to mention here but I am sure you will know some of those unsung heroes.
Community spirit is alive and very well here in Aberconwy. We have celebrated those working and caring in every part of our Health and Emergency Services. They have stepped into danger when we have been advised to step away. What an extraordinary job they have done – each month posed a new challenge. And what a challenge we now have in 2021 to deliver the largest vaccination programme in our nation’s history. But I think they will do it.
As this year came to a close, I asked local schoolchildren – both primary and secondary – to design a Christmas card that encapsulated the “true meaning of Christmas.” The centuries old Christian message of “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men” is one of hope and came originally at a time of darkness and uncertainty.
It was not an easy task to pick the winner from the many who responded but the winning card was designed by Marged Howatson of Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy. Marged’s card is pictured here and as you can see has a perfect message for Christmas 2020; urging us to think about “love, hope and social distancing.”
Things look more hopeful with a vaccine. We know that we must continue to be sensible and follow the guidelines of hands, face and space (or social distancing). And at Christmas we are reminded of that “For God so loved the world He gave us His Son”. The greatest thing is indeed, love.
So, as we head into this Christmas, hoping to see family, eager to celebrate with our loved ones and concerned for their wellbeing and health, may I wish you “love, hope – and social distancing”.