WHEN I wrote my 2020 New Year's message few of us realised that we were so close to a global health emergency which would transform all our lives.
The last 10 months have been dominated by coronavirus which, despite the welcome development of a vaccine, will likely remain a concern for some time.
Difficult times, however, bring out the best in people and I have been impressed and heartened by how our local communities have come together in adversity.
It is a great privilege live in and to represent Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale where stoicism and compassion have long been evident.
This has been one of my busiest periods as a parliamentarian and has included helping hundreds of constituents, businesses and organisations by providing information, making contacts and, where possible, facilitating practical support.
My thoughts remain with those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 or who have been touched in other ways, such as the impact on jobs, businesses and general wellbeing.
I wish to praise the dedication of our frontline NHS staff, care community, emergency services and the army of key workers across the public and private sectors who have worked away, often in extremely difficult circumstances.
Obviously, the arrival of a vaccine so quickly was a great achievement and I hope the roll-out goes smoothly locally and nationally, so we can put the pandemic behind us, with the key task then rebuilding the economy.
I hope the Borderlands Growth Deal I championed as Scottish Secretary can play a significant part in that by creating new jobs and businesses locally.
From a political perspective the Scottish Parliament elections are due on May 6. I’ve no idea what form the campaign will take but hope there will be some opportunity to get out and about and meet people. It's that personal contact I’ve missed most this year.
I wish everyone a Happy and, above all, Healthy New Year!