This is my last column before Christmas so let me start by wishing you and your family a Happy Christmas.  2016 has been a remarkable year.  In politics the unexpected has become the norm. From our relations with Brussels and Brexit to the state of the Brussel sprout crop there’s been no shortage of sensational headlines.

In these uncertain, and still tough, times however people across our community are getting on with making this the best possible Christmas. There was the LD:North East carol service at Christ Church with inspirational performances by pupils from Beacon Hill and Woodlawn Schools. There’s the practical application of faith with Street Pastors out over the festive season keeping revellers safe.  There’s the Salvation Army, providing the soundtrack to Christmas, and feeding otherwise lonely people on Christmas Day.

There’s the Churches Acting Together service emphasising tradition at the opening the North Shields Christmas Market and there’s the first switching on of Christmas Lights at the Cedarwood’s new centre on the Meadow Well allowing them to do  more good work on the estate.

Add to that there are the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers doing their job over the holiday to keep us well and the police and fire fighters working to keep us safe. And countless others in hospitality, transport and retail working to make Christmas enjoyable for the rest of us.  Thank you to all of them and Merry Christmas.

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