Some great contributions to our county
It seems hard to believe that we are coming to the end of another year already.
And it has been a year with so many important issues and events to look back on.
December started on a festive note with the arrival of the now famous Kielder Christmas Tree in Westminster, which has become something of an annual tradition.
The magnificent 45ft Sitka Spruce is from Northumberland’s own Kielder Forest, and the fine festive specimen has been kindly donated by the Forestry Commission.
The tree has been spectacularly decorated for the seasonal celebrations, and it really does make for an amazing sight.
It is always a proud moment for me personally to see a piece of Northumberland standing proud at the heart of Westminster.
I was especially pleased to be able to welcome young Ailsa Westgate, a pupil at Wylam First School, along to Westminster to see the tree for herself.
Ailsa was named as the winner of my 2018 Christmas Card Competition, which was kindly sponsored by Fergusons of Blyth.
Her brilliant design featured the landmark of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and it really does catch the eye.
The card has now been sent out to people all around the country, including to the Prime Minister Theresa May and other members of the Cabinet.
I really enjoyed looking at all of this year’s entries from schools all over the constituency.
Well done indeed to everyone who took part in the competition this year.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who donated toys as part of my 2018 Christmas Toy Appeal.
I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people across Tynedale and Ponteland in donating toys and gifts.
These items will be distributed by the Salvation Army to local children in need. These youngsters would not otherwise receive any gifts this Christmas.
It is difficult to explain how much these gifts will mean to the children who receive them.
Thank you so much to everyone who has made such a huge difference to local children by donating the toys and gifts.
Another of the highlights for me this month was my recent visit to Kielder Reservoir.
There, I was able to meet with the team who run the Kielder Dam, as well as the management team at Northumbrian Water.
It was fascinating to find out all about how the dam supports our local area in Northumberland.
The Kielder Reservoir holds around 200 billion litres of water, making it the largest artificial reservoir in the UK.
It really was an eye-opening experience to learn about the vital role that the reservoir plays in our local area, and also in flood defence.
This month I also had the great pleasure of visiting many of our county’s much valued local shops and businesses as I presented my Small Business Awards.
The deserving Ridley’s Fish and Game in Acomb was named as overall winner of the awards, which are kindly sponsored by Patricia J Arnold and Co.
Small businesses are at the heart of our local communities right across Northumberland and it is so important that we all support the small businesses in our own neighbourhoods.
I will continue to champion the immense and valuable contribution that these businesses make.
The year 2019 is now very much on the horizon and I am looking forward to working hard to serve every one of my constituents in the year ahead.
Finally, I would like to sign off this month’s column by wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year.