Yet despite 2020 being a horribly difficult and heart breaking year – I have to say, I have never been more humbled to be your chairman.
The way that communities have stuck together and helped each other, stuck by their neighbours, their communities, their businesses, I cannot remember a time when I have been more honoured to show off my title, and proudly state which district I represent.
Despite all the difficulties and tragedies we have all witnessed time and time again on the news and all around us over the past nine months, I see plenty of hope and I see plenty of optimism.
We have, of course, got the prospects of new vaccines and new treatments, but perhaps more importantly than that, we have seen a new sense of community being born and evolve all around us.
When this pandemic ends – and this pandemic will end of course – and we enter into a brand new, refreshed world, perhaps we will see our local communities with a new perspective – one in which we continue to embrace local businesses, help our elderly neighbours and honour more frequently those key workers, who have been never-ending in their fight on the front line this year.
Recently, I posted a series of Christmas cards and vouchers to those key workers, as a small gesture of my admiration and appreciation to those who have continued to provide vital services in our district throughout the pandemic.
We have also seen significant progress and achievement within the district this year, despite the circumstances, and perhaps that is why I am truly humbled.
Brand new leisure facilities in Market Rasen, a state-of-the-art crematorium in Lea, new cinema plans in Gainsborough, and work beginning on a new depot near Caenby Corner; all of which happened despite the conditions around us.
It was my honour as chairman to open many of these new facilities in person this year.
It was my honour, too, to visit local communities in person to present this year’s Community Awards, to carry on our tradition of honouring those residents who act most selflessly of all.
Meeting these residents, chosen because of their never-ending choice to volunteer their time, efforts and focus on those less fortunate, is a sure sign of what we are as a district.
I look forward to a time where we can all be together again, and celebrate as one!
As many others, I was incredibly sad to not be able to attend many of our usual festivities this year – Halloween events, Bonfire displays, Christmas markets, the Mayflower 400th anniversary, Easter events, Remembrance Sunday parades, church ceremonies – but I remain truly humbled by how many residents took to celebrating these events in their own special, unique way.
I am sure, very soon, this will all be a collection of memories we can look back on one day, with a sense of pride at how we adapted – whilst also remembering those who have suffered at the hands of this ghastly disease.
As we look forward to 2021 - a new year with new hope - we look forward to what will hopefully be the end to this pandemic and these tiered restrictions.
From my own personal perspective, I hope to host events in person next year, and be able to chair council meetings in person, surrounded by my fellow members and officers who work so tirelessly to give to this district, as we make decisions I hope impact every resident for the better.
For now, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Please celebrate it as safely and responsibly as you can – and very, very soon, myself and my wife Kathryn hope to see many of you again, without masks, without fear, and with joy in our hearts again.
Chairman of West Lindsey District Council.