I would like to start by wishing all of your readers a very happy New Year.
I hope that 2019 will be another successful year for the Hexham constituency, and for everyone living in it, and I am looking forward to seeing what the coming months have in store for us all.
I have recently experienced a very busy Christmas period.
I have been travelling the length and breadth of the Hexham constituency to meet with as many local people and as many local businesses in the area as possible over the past few weeks.
I consider that speaking with people at the heart of our communities is one of the best and most important parts of my job as a Member of Parliament.
As ever, I would encourage anyone in the constituency to get in touch with my local office if they would like to arrange a surgery to speak with me about the issues that matter to them.
My team and I are there to help, and I do my best to make sure I see everyone who needs to see me.
Back to my recent visits.
Shortly before Christmas, I went along to the Kids 1st nursery in Hexham.
I met Nursery Manager Sarah, Karen McKay from Busy Bees, and some of the apprentices who are training at the facility.
Kids 1st is run by the national chain of nurseries, Busy Bees.
It takes children aged from birth to five years, providing care and developmental and extra-curricular activities.
It was an enjoyable and informative visit, and it was good to experience the top quality learning environment and facilities that Kids 1st has there.
A highlight of my visit was definitely seeing the amazing ‘mini Hexham’ area, complete with local shops and businesses for the children to play in.
And I was also delighted to see the carved squirrel sandpit, which had been very generously donated by Egger — I am sure that many happy hours will be spent in it by the children in the future when the weather warms up.
I started my Hexham Constituency Community Champion Awards scheme, with support from sponsor Red Hot Property, back in 2017 to celebrate the people who work tirelessly to make a difference to our local communities in the constituency.
And it was such a pleasure for me to present Denis Peel, from Wylam, with one of the Community Champion Awards recently.
Denis is something of a stalwart of the Wylam community.
He picks up litter, is a trustee of the Wylam Institute, and is always willing to help friends and neighbours in need.
Denis was nominated by his neighbours in the village, who are grateful for all he does for the community.
We all owe Denis our thanks — villages everywhere do need people like him around.
Please do get in touch with my office if there is someone in your community that you would like to see recognised.
Visiting the schools in my constituency is something that I like to do on a continuing basis.
And as such, I have recently visited schools in Wylam, Prudhoe, Corbridge and Ponteland, and there are further visits planned to others in the coming weeks.
I am also looking forward to the launch of Northumberland County Council’s Discover Our Land project.
The aim of this initiative is to encourage more people to discover the treasures that Northumberland has to offer.
It is particularly timely, following hot on the heels of our beautiful county of Northumberland being named as the best holiday county in the UK.
There is much to look forward to as we start 2019.
I will continue to do my best to serve each and every one of my constituents, and I will always work to champion Tynedale and Ponteland in every way possible.