Christmas Message for the Linlithgow Gazette December 2021

As we look ahead to 2002, we will all be reflecting on a 2021 which brought many difficulties, but also periods of respite where restrictions lifted and we were able to do more and meet people again and society and the economy started to recover. Now with a new Covid variant Omicron spreading fast especially in West Lothian we must all try and stay safe and get fully vaccinated and boosted to protect ourselves, protect others and protect the NHS which is facing severe pressures this winter.

For many, it was still a year of personal loss and I want to express my deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones this year. It has been a very hard year for so many, and my thoughts are with all those who have suffered a bereavement. We now face 2022 with uncertainty, but kindness and thinking for others can again be our strength.

Staff working in the NHS, Social Care and the Emergency Services have continued to work hard under pressure, and many are exhausted after 20 long months of this. We owe them a great debt for their work, and I want to thank them for their determination and resilience. I also want to thank all those responsible for the roll-out of the vaccination programme. This is a truly monumental task and everyone involved from vaccinators, to administrators and volunteer stewards are all doing a tremendous job. The continued progress of the programme is essential to tackle the virus.

Communities across West Lothian have come together, despite this year’s challenges, to make sacrifices to support one another and to protect the most vulnerable. In the town of Linlithgow many of the local communities rallied together to keep each other and the wider community going. Community does matter and here in Linlithgow so many people have drawn strength, resilience, and fun to keep going from on-line and returning local groups. We started to see activities return as well – I will always remember with great pleasure when I first heard the crowd roar again from Prestonfield Park! Our town’s sense of community and heritage is evident in the campaign, which I support, to save and recognise over 700 years of history and the name of the ‘Black Bitch’ both for people and pub.

Our children and young people have gone through so much but have shown resilience, adaptability and capability and they must be the focus and key priority for 2022.

Yet 2021 was about looking beyond the immediate crisis and our local issues and COP26 being hosted in Glasgow gave us a chance to commit to tackle the global Climate Emergency. With local organisations in Linilithgow creatively working to ensure the town plays its role, I am committed to ensure Scotland drives forward the Net Zero actions needed. So, we must always focus on hope for the future as we look towards 2022.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes for a safe and prosperous New Year.

Fiona Hyslop MSP

Member of Scottish Parliament for the Linlithgow Constituency