December, and with it the Christmas season, each year seems to come around more quickly than before, so for those readers who have not yet completed your Christmas shopping (or started it, in my case), there is still plenty of time to look in local shops for your presents this year. The first Saturday in December is the 5th annual ‘Small Business Saturday’ and provides the perfect excuse to shop locally and help grow our local economy. Christmas markets are also increasingly popular in our market towns across South Shropshire in the run up to Christmas, and several have late night shopping events.
While many of us take Christmas as a time to be with family and friends, enjoying some peace of mind away from work, men and women up and down the country go to work to serve the public, in what can be difficult circumstances. I have been fortunate to serve in two government departments, Defence and Health, both of which have given me the chance to meet many public spirited people who spend their days, nights and public holidays ensuring the public are safe and well. At Christmas time, our admiration for their selfless work grows even stronger.
Emergency workers like paramedics, police, and fire services all continue to be ready, in a matter of minutes, to come to our aid over Christmas should we need them. I have been out with emergency ambulance crews, and spent time with hospital emergency clinicians. These are testing jobs, and we should be grateful for their professionalism year round, but perhaps especially at Christmas. The same goes for all staff in our hospitals and community health settings, both locally and across the UK, who ensure our NHS is there should we need it.
Similarly, members of the police and Armed Forces protect us around the clock, including in Parliament, as we have had tragic cause to be thankful for this year. Those posted overseas must maintain a constant state of alertness, unable to be with their families at Christmas. While bases and ships afford some luxuries, like a Christmas lunch, day to day work remains the priority. We should all be very grateful for their service.
In a slightly different but related vein, I would also like to thank all the posties working in the Ludlow Constituency for their efforts to ensure letters and parcels reach their intended destination before Christmas Day. I visit one of the sorting offices in the constituency ahead of each Christmas to thank the hardworking staff, and am always amazed at the sheer quantity of mail, especially parcels, delivered in South Shropshire at this time of year.
So if you get the chance, please take the time to thank those who you know will be working over Christmas. A kind word goes a long way, and will let them know how much you appreciate what they do.
I wish all my constituents across South Shropshire a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.