Media Release: A Christmas message from South Ayrshire provost, Winifred Sloan

THE days are growing shorter, the dark winter nights are growing longer, and Christmas is now drawing upon us. Christmas remains a magical time, and each and everyone is entitled to feel the warm glow of humanity touching us all, as well as raising our hearts and spirits.

The past year has resulted in challenges unseen in decades. But the human spirit of resourcefulness and resilience has helped overcome many of the difficult days we’ve all encountered. The global financial crisis has caused deep concern for individuals and businesses alike, and we all hope 2010 will result in greater financial stability and security for our families.

Christmas remains a time for families to re-engage and share those cherished moments. It’s a special time for young children to enjoy the wonder of Christmas activities, and share the general excitement and the bestowing of family gifts. A childhood Christmas is an enduring part of our lives, something we all cherish and appreciate with the passing years.

However, there will be many families this year who will be unable to reunite with their loved ones. In particular, we think of our servicemen and women on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandparents, husbands, wives and sweethearts will be separated over the forthcoming festive season.

We acknowledge the pain of their separation, especially those on active duty with small children, and look forward to their safe return to family, friends and loved ones in the near future. Our support to these brave men and women will help maintain their families over the forthcoming coming weeks and months.

We also acknowledge the work of those closer to home. Our emergency services are on duty for 365 days of the year, and the work of the police, ambulance and fire service continues to safeguard our homes and families over the Christmas period.

We should also acknowledge the work of social services, care-workers, hospital staff, doctors and nurses, who help care for the sick, young, elderly, frail and vulnerable members of our community.

Christmas is about caring – and sharing. Please spare a thought for the vulnerable or an elderly person who may not have relatives close to home. Just check up on a neighbour and ensure all’s well. Caring is a gift in itself.

This year, close to home and further afield, we have suffered dreadful flooding and many homes have been destroyed. Flooding at any time is a disaster, but so close to Christmas makes it more poignant. Please share a thought for the many families who will not be celebrating Christmas in their own homes. In fact they might not celebrate Christmas at all. They will be devastated – please pray these families will be able to return to their communities by Christmas 2010. Anything anyone can do to help in however humble a way will be greatly appreciated.

The true message of Christmas has a special meaning. It touches all our hearts and makes us all appreciate the values of Christianity. The wonder of a small child opening presents on Christmas morning; the warmth and appreciation of parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts; and the thoughtful gifts of appreciation to family and loved ones. It’s a time of joyous fun, kindness, and consideration, as well as a coming together of family and friends.

Let’s ensure Christmas 2009 brings warmth and appreciation to everyone within our community. And remember: let’s think of others as well as ourselves.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in South Ayrshire – a merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

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Contact: Murdoch MacDonald
Phone: 01292 281498