Merry Christmas to all my constituents here in Central Devon.
It has been another very difficult and challenging year, beginning with our third lockdown and ending with much uncertainty over the new Omicron variant and what the New Year will bring. I have spoken with many constituents over the last year with many finding the past twelve months especially difficult. This has included people who have lost loved ones or have caught Covid and are still struggling with long term side effects, small business owners who are still battling to get back on their feet, and older people living on their own who have found themselves struggling with isolation.
I have tried to help where I can, sometimes dealing with 200 or 300 pieces of casework a week, and I would encourage anyone in Central Devon to contact me if they think I can help in any way. I will always do whatever I can.
While much of my focus has been on the local impact of Covid-19, I have not taken my eye off the very many issues that are important to residents here in Central Devon. These include action to preserve local healthcare provision and improve local transport links, as well as a lot of work on the vital issue of climate change. A short summary of some of my work this year can be found at www.melstridemp.com/2021.
The local heroes of 2021 are too many to name in a short column, but I would like to thank everyone who has kept vital services in Central Devon going, including our teachers, social care workers, refuse and recycling teams, and council staff.
Thank you to the extraordinary efforts of our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who have been at the frontline of the biggest public health crisis in the history of the NHS and who have delivered the biggest vaccination effort our country has ever seen.
Thank you also to our retail workers and delivery drivers for keeping food on the shelves, and thank you to our pre-school staff and childcare providers who have enabled people to get back to work so our economy can get moving again.
I would also like to pay tribute to the dedicated members of our emergency services, who will not benefit from the rest that many of us are looking forward to over Christmas. Thank you to the brave men and women of our armed forces, some of whom will be posted abroad and will be separated from their family and friends on Christmas Day.
Thank you to everyone who has volunteered their time to help others – the marshals at our vaccination centres, the local Covid-19 response teams who have taken food and supplies to those in need, our charity shop volunteers who have kept revenue coming in for important causes and the volunteer coaches at our sports clubs who provide fun and healthy activities for our young people.
On behalf of everyone in Central Devon, thank you to all.