Provost Ian Clarkson's Christmas message
Posted on 22 Dec 2017
Christmas is a time of joy. A time when we traditionally come together with family and friends.
It’s also a time when we look back over the past year and what it has brought us, whether good fortune or bad.
I’m extremely privileged and humbled to be the Provost of North Ayrshire. It has afforded me so many wonderful moments and allowed me to meet fantastic people from right across our area.
2017 has been my first full year in the role and it’s be exhilarating, exciting … and exhausting. It’s difficult to imagine what I did with my time before taking on the role.
What I will remember most though is that this has been a year when I have seen the best of what North Ayrshire has to offer – its people.
Going back to the early part of this year, I hosted my first-ever Civic Pride Awards. The whole process, from judging the entrants to choosing the finalists and winners was completely inspiring.
The winners came from all parts of North Ayrshire, each bringing something unique and amazing – whether it was Paralympic swimmer Abby Kane, the Isle of Arran Museum volunteers, our Citizen of the Year Betty Wilson, the Anthony Quinn Trust which was the Community Group winner, or Funky Films, winners of the Provost Awards.
We are fortunate to have so many committed, talented people in our communities whose dedication and enthusiasm have had a positive impact on the lives of local people.
The Provost’s Awards is a celebration of community spirit and that was something which was evident wherever I went.
Whether it was attending school breakfast clubs, seeing the Prince’s Trust in action at our local high schools, watching the crowds turn out for Marymass, or witnessing the amazing work of North Ayrshire Foodbank, I was moved by every one of them.
My role as Provost also allows me to play a part in helping raise funds for charity. This year’s Civic Pride Awards raised almost £18,000for Ayrshire Hospice and Cash for Kids, while the Go Purple Day raised almost £1000 for the Hospice, and our coffee morning raised almost £300for Macmillan Cancer.
And on January 1, I will have the honour of joining the volunteers at Coastwatch to go for a dip in the freezing waters at Irvine beach as part of the ‘New Year’s Day Polar Plunge'. I’ve already taken a dip in the waters earlier this year with MP Philippa Whitford. It was freezing but the money we raised helped to warm us up. If you think you could contribute to the fundraising effort, I would be delighted if you could donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/provost-ian-clarkson
One of my favourite parts of being Provost is the fact that I get to travel to all parts of North Ayrshire and meet people, something I didn’t really get the chance to do when I was ‘just’ an Irvine Councillor. Travelling to places like Arran, Millport, the Garnock Valley, the North Coast, and Three Towns, has given me a real appreciation of the stunning part of the country we live in. We don’t always appreciate what is on our doorstep but believe me, North Ayrshire has everything going for it.
To that end, I tried to do my best to boost North Ayrshire on the international stage. I met with Emmanuel Cocher, Consul General de France and the Consulate General of China in Edinburgh Pan Xinchun. We also welcomed Susan A. Wilson, Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, to Irvine when we hosted both the Men’s and the Ladies’ Scottish Open for first time.
It was an amazing month of golf at Dundonald Links and really put North Ayrshire on the map with an international audience.
Even though the golf events were spectacular, my own personal highlight was something much more down to earth – a Burns Supper at James McFarlane School. For those who don’t know, the school is based in Ardrossan and is attended by young people with special educational needs.
That Burns Supper will live long in the memory, with the sheer enjoyment being shown on the faces of the young folk. I hope I get an invite back next year.
And that, for me, is what North Ayrshire about - its people, its community. So, as you gather for the festive season, please enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones and spare a thought for those who may not be so fortunate.
And let’s not forget those who will be working while we sit down to dinner – police officers, the Fire Service, medical and health professionals and our own Council staff. I thank each and every one of them.
So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. May it be kind to you and may you be kind to others.