Community spirit should be celebrated

Provost Ian Clarkson.

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A Christmas message from North Ayrshire Provost Ian Clarkson

When I think back 12 months ago, just as we were looking forward to last Christmas and our hopes for a new year, none of us could envisage what would unfold in 2020.

Sadly, it turned out to be a bleak year for most of us, and even more tragic for those who have lost a loved one to Covid-19.

However, with the first batches of the vaccine now being distributed and the promise of more on the way, we have good reason to be optimistic for the year ahead. There is light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

But that shouldn’t allow us to become complacent. I would urge you all to continue to look after your friends, family and loved ones by sticking to the rules. With hope on the horizon, there is too much to risk by letting our guard down now. So please, enjoy your Christmas but keep each other safe at the same time.

This might mean not having the same type of Christmas you would usually enjoy but it will be a small price to pay to ensure we can meet up with friends and family in 2021 when we can hopefully have a celebration together safely – and I’m sure it will be one we won’t forget.

So many have suffered so much throughout 2020 and, while there has been tragedy and heartbreak for many in our communities, we shouldn’t forget the kindness and compassion which has been so evident.

That community spirit should be celebrated and that’s why I was saddened when the pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s Provost’s Recognition Awards.

This year was to be the first of new-look awards and we had planned to hold smaller ceremonies in each of our six localities – rather than one big celebration – allowing us to recognise community champions from every part of North Ayrshire.

Understandably, these were shelved but plans are well under way to hold the event at some point next year giving us the opportunity to celebrate the very best our residents have to offer. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the stories and, most of all, meeting you all in person once again.

After the past nine months – during which we have seen so much community spirit and goodness in people – I know there will be no shortage of potential winners.

So much has changed this year – including our use of technology to stay in touch with each other. While we may have been apart physically, we still retained the bonds that tie us together through modern video platforms.

It was wonderful to connect with so many people online – although not everyone had experience of virtual meetings beforehand, we adapted wonderfully, whether that was meetings with other elected members or Irvine Burns Club, or indeed a number of local organisations which maintained their community spirit in the face of adversity.

Even our very own Marymass Festival went online, allowing people from near and far to enjoy a wide range of entertainment as well as catching footage of previous festivals.

Indeed, even our commemorations to mark both VE Day and Remembrance Sunday – both locally and nationally – may have been observed virtually or from our own homes, but they were no less poignant.

So, while we prepare for a very different type of Christmas this year, we will offer a prayer to those who are no longer with us in person, but in spirit.

At the same time, we can hold in our hearts a hope and expectation that 2021 will bring us better fortune and be a year in which we can see our friends and family and give our loved ones a hug. That would be the best Christmas present of all.

So, from me, please have a happy and safe Christmas and a wonderful 2021.


Provost Ian Clarkson. NO_B40provost01