With Parliament now in recess, I’m home and running round our local shops to buy presents. Alongside our established events, The Neon Noel light show at the Town Hall and the new Christmas market at the bandstand both reflect our ambition to be a real ‘Christmas destination’ and they represent a worthy investment from the Prime Minister’s £2m to support the town’s economy in the wake of the pier fire.
Christmas events have taken me to the far east and west of the constituency with carols on the quayside at Sovereign Harbour with the RNLI, held in suitably dramatic weather and a very beautiful Nine Lessons service at the timeless St Andrews in Jevington.
One of my particular highlights has been the Nativity Play at Shinewater School and although, as a former teacher, I thought I had seen every interpretation of the story, ‘Humph!’ - as seen through the eyes of a camel - was both new and, very, very sweet. This school has bounced back heroically from the potentially devastating fire in the autumn and I was hugely impressed with everything I saw, and the plans to come. A massive well done to all who have rallied to make sure ‘the show can go’ on every day of the school year.
Members of the The RNLI and fire rescue, with many in the emergency services and elsewhere will be working throughout the Christmas and New Year holidays and I would like to thank them for all they do throughout the year to keep us safe and secure. It is especially painful to know that incidents of domestic violence hit a high at this festive time of year.. I support the work of our Police Crime Commissioner in making this a top priority.
For some - and for many reasons - Christmas can be a challenge. For others it’s a wonderful, magical time of year. I’ve experienced both over the years but I’m so fortunate in a big noisy family together at Christmastime. The holiday season can be lonely and a struggle for many, most especially for those recently bereaved. I’m looking forward to a glass of festive cheer on the 25th , courtesy of the good people of The Rotary, at their ‘Alone at Christmas’ event and another Rotary-sponsored occasion, The Tree of Light, is still shining out for all those remembering lost loved ones. Loneliness is increasingly a challenge for us as a community but one where we can all make a difference.
But for everything that the season can mean, ultimately for me as a Christian, Christmas is the celebration of the mystery of my faith, the love of an awesome God and an event 2000 years ago which shaped the World we know. In my thoughts and prayers will be those in other parts of the world who risk their lives to express their faith..
From Nick and I and our three boys, wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year. And in the words of Charles Dickens’ Tiny Tim, ‘God Bless us, everyone’.