Provost's Christmas Message
With the festive season nearly upon us, I am hoping that Christmas has not lost too much of its sparkle. It's difficult to remember when the pandemic did not rule our lives, but hopefully the holidays will help lift our spirits.
I am still not able to be out and about as much as I'd like. Recording video messages for those celebrating special occasions has become the new norm. I sent my best wishes to 14 couples celebrating their Diamond Wedding Anniversary this year, one couple even went platinum!
The end of the year can be a poignant time for those who have lost someone close. In April, we lost HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He served this country and the Commonwealth for over 70 years. His loss has been keenly felt, not least by Her Majesty the Queen.
We also remembered those that have given their lives in the service of our country. Remembrance Day was different again this year, with virtual commemorations also taking place to mark VE and VJ Day. We also remembered those who risk their lives at sea, as part of the Merchant Navy.
For the last few years, we have commemorated Emergency Services Day. This honours the Police; Fire and Rescue; the Ambulance Service as well as the Coastguard; Search and Rescue; and the NHS.
The Emergency Services played a key role during the dreadful events in Kincaidston in October. The explosion which saw one family in hospital and hundreds more displaced, required a huge multi-agency response. It was traumatic, but I am proud of the way Council staff; residents; business owners and many more all pulled together to help those in need.
Tragic events can live long in the memory, and it's important we come together to reflect and remember those involved.
I attended the memorial of the Russian Cruiser Varyag which ran aground not far from Lendalfoot in 1920. I was delighted that Andrey Yakovlev, Consul General of the Russian Federation also managed to attend.
Leaders from around the world came together for COP26 in Glasgow. The delegation from the Constitutional Government of East Timor stayed in South Ayrshire during the conference, and I talked to them about how climate change was affecting their island. The conference was also an ideal opportunity for our schools to highlight the climate crisis, by getting involved in campaigns and competitions.
Building and maintaining relationships with friends overseas has not been easy. However, this year we established a 'Friendly and Co-operation Relationship' with Liaocheng City in China. This agreement will explore opportunities for education; health and wellbeing; technology; and innovation as well as investment over the next five years and beyond.
We also continue to develop relations with India and celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. He famously said: "There is no way to peace, peace is the way", and this is highlighted on his statue in Ayr Town Hall.
With many of us looking at ways to stay healthy while spending more time at home, we celebrated the International Day of Yoga. Yoga is something we can do even when space is limited, and it can be a great way to relax and boost wellbeing.
If you are meeting up with family this Christmas, please protect each other as much as you can, and follow the latest guidance. Celebrating Christmas is important, but so is looking after each other.
Please spare a thought for people who continue to work throughout the Christmas period, particularly for those who help to keep us safe and well.
Finally, I'd like to wish you all the best for the festive season and have a Happy New Year too.
Helen Moonie, Provost of South Ayrshire.