Christmas message from Provost Ian Clarkson
Posted on 21 Dec 2018
In today’s society, we are often quick to overlook the random acts of kindness and the amazing displays of generosity which happen in every town and village every single day.
We live in a fast-paced world, influenced by social media, where people are quick to criticise and make instant judgements.
But, fundamentally, people are good. They are kind and generous.
This year, I have attended probably close to 400 different events, and witnessed first-hand the amazing community spirit which exists across North Ayrshire and the rest of Scotland.
I see how people give up their time to help others, how they selflessly go out of their way to do something positive for the community where they live and yet expect nothing in return.
My very first engagement of 2018 summed up that community spirit when dozens of people joined me and MP Philippa Whitford for a ‘refreshing’ start to the New Year – with a Polar Plunge at Irvine beach on January 1. The water was freezing but my spirits were warmed by the money we all raised for charity. It was a great event and I’m already looking forward to the next plunge in just over a week’s time.
A real highlight of my year is the Provost’s Civic Pride Awards, held for the first time in the Portal. The event raised more than £19,000 for two charities close to my heart, Ayrshire Hospice and Cash For Kids. And this year’s total means that since the Civic Pride Awards first launched eight years ago, the fundraising total has now smashed through the £150,000 barrier. An amazing effort.
2018 has been the Year of Young People and it’s been a real honour to attend a number of events where the children and young people have shown real leadership, intelligence and enthusiasm.
In particular, I have really enjoyed travelling round our schools, getting to meet pupils, answer their questions and find out about the amazing work they are carrying out – just some of the many visits included the opening of the new play area at Castlepark Primary, challenging pupils at Elderbank Primary to grow tomatoes, seeing the amazing work carried out through the Prince’s Trust at schools like Irvine Royal Academy, Largs Campus Ardrossan Academy, and Greenwood Academy, and the fantastic celebration of Chinese Culture at Winton Primary School, which was attended by the Chinese Consul General, Pan Xinchun.
These international links are important to our area and I’m always delighted to spread the word about North Ayrshire to anyone who will listen and most recently got the chance when I visited Irvine’s twin town, Voisins le Bretonneux in France for a hectic but enjoyable two-day trip.
Of course, this year also gave us a chance to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.
In March, we marked the 75th anniversary of the tragic loss of HMS Dasher, an aircraft carrier which exploded and sank on the Firth of Clyde between Ardrossan and Brodick. Of the 528 men on board, 379 lives were lost.
And I was privileged to play a role in the many commemorative events held to mark the 100th anniversary of end of the First World War. I’m proud to be North Ayrshire’s Veterans’ Champion and the Remembrance Sunday service this year was especially poignant and touching.
To me – like so many of the events I have attended this year - it showed the importance of us coming together in the spirit of friendship.
At a time when many parts of society are angry and splintered, it is up to all of us to reach out and heal the wounds.
I wish you all a heartfelt merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I hope we can all be inspired by the community spirit which exists in every single town and village across North Ayrshire – let us all show compassion, generosity and kindness not only during the festive season but every single day of the year.
Provost Ian Clarkson