Growing Strong in Difficult Times

THERE can be little doubt that for most of us there have been few events in our lifetime that have had such an impact on everyday life as that of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But, as older constituents may recall from the dark days of World War Two, this spring, amidst tragedy and concern, there has again been a pulling together of communities with a common goal of supporting each other and especially those most in need.

Our less populated rural region has naturally not experienced the mortality count experienced in more urban parts of the country but the loss of so many loved ones has been no less painful.

My deepest condolences go to everyone who has lost a relative or friend as a result of coronavirus.

There has been nothing more poignant than seeing the rainbow symbols that have appeared in windows, often the work of children, across the constituency in recent weeks.

They are a symbol of our respect and admiration for the valiant efforts of all our NHS teams, carers, emergency services and the army of key workers ranging from supermarket staff to those in the transport sector.

In my neighbourhood in Moffat and all over the constituency, the Thursday night clapping, cheers and banging of saucepans, even sometimes accompanied by a piper, have demonstrated an overwhelming outpouring of support.

I believe, and I certainly hope, that there will be wider appreciation of the vital roles played by many in our communities and country as a legacy of this difficult and sad period.

Protecting people from infection must remain first priority but, in time, the lockdown, which has changed all our lives will inevitably be phased out although the exact route-map and timescale are not yet completely clear.

It would be difficult to overstate the challenges facing businesses and other organisations of all sizes as a result of Covid-19.

I've spoken to many local business people and guided them on where to apply for the various financial and other support available through local authorities and Scottish Government from the unprecedented emergency funding provided by the UK Government.

There has also been some assistance for the third sector, which, as always, has been invaluable in providing extra services and volunteers in recent weeks.

My hope is that as many as possible of our local firms and the self-employed successfully get back in operation as we get through, as I'm sure we will, this difficult period.

Whilst schools may be closed, hubs for children of key workers have been in operation, and I commend everyone involved in keeping all our essential services going.

Sadly many of the colourful community events, including the Beltane Festival, St Ronan's Games and the world famous Common Ridings, will be understandably missing this summer because of the physical distancing necessary to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

But knowing first-hand the hard work and enthusiasm of the organisers, I feel sure most of our summer attractions will return bigger and better in 2021.

We live, as they say, in uncertain times, and every day seems to deliver fresh challenges but, please rest assured, if I and my team can help in anyway, please contact me on 01683-222746 or by email at

And remember the UK and Scottish Government advice ... Stay at home - Protect the NHS - Save lives!