Dear Editor, It was good to see you in Haddington on December 18.

And that other colleagues of yours were also shopping in Haddington High Street and at the farmers’ market.

You witnessed the busiest market in 18 months, ably stewarded by Rotary Club volunteers, with local small businesses doing a good trade.

St Mary’s Kirk and Haddington Pipe Band also benefitted from the kindness of the market by being allowed to raise funds. Haddington Pipe Band played for a crowd that really appreciated their annual attempt at dressing up as Santa, shepherds and wisemen.

Similarly, in the previous days, both those groups had benefitted from having a cabin to raise funds through the kindness of the Business and Community Partnership volunteers, in the area in front of the Corn Exchange.

Inside, many professional staff supported by more volunteers were administering vaccinations.

Visitors from Edinburgh and Dunbar and Inverness and Dublin talked to me about how much they were enjoying the town. New residents commented on the joy of living in a county town with green space and gardens.

They remarked on splendid cafes, pubs, library, museum, butcher, bakers, hairdressers and hardware store, gift shops, Sushi takeaway and wine stockist and newsagents, renowned cheese lady and even compared our special saddlers to the ‘Four Candles’ shop – and all within 20 minutes’ walk and good bus services.

They told me that good schools had attracted them to Haddington and good play facilities, with access to Edinburgh to add value, but they had what they wanted here. I was proud of Haddington that morning and of the feedback I heard.

There are so many ways to engage in making our town a better place: community council, local area partnership, Blooming Haddington, CAPP meetings (we are fortunate in having such participative police), Friends of River Tyne, Rotary and Probus, history society, as well as church congregations, schools, nurseries and parent councils and PTAs, youth organisations, etc, sporting groups and Aubigny Centre, hockey, football and rugby clubs to name but a few. Lamp of Lothian, Poldrate Arts and Crafts, camera club and so many more add vibrancy and fun, whilst caring bodies like OCK and Lammermuir Larder aid our vulnerable.

All are led and developed by volunteers.

The Santa Sleigh event, organised by Rotary, building on community council’s efforts, brought out an estimated crowd of 3,000 people of all ages around the town which cheered the man in a red suit – again, a fine example of engagement by local businesses and volunteers.

The town shone safely under Christmas lights and decorations, despite the challenges of this vile virus.

There are so many quietly professional and kind and thoughtful examples of folk in Haddington partnering to create a great place to live, learn, work and play, and we need to recognise them more.

They are prepared to use their professionalism, wisdom and experience, and energy and enthusiasm, to positive ends and to work for the good of their community, and to set aside personal aims in favour of teamwork and vision.

They listen, they engage, they plan and deliver to make a visible and tangible difference.

To all those thinkers, carers, leaders and doers giving that wee bit extra for our town – my thanks! They do it for others and are selfless not selfish.

I know we can do more, and perhaps better, but I’m proud to be part of some of the solutions.

I thank you and the Courier for all you do to help with that. I know that you have to represent opposing and critical views in the interest of ‘freedom of speech’ but I note that those comments are few and far between and often by illusory writers who no one seems to know, or by those who choose not to disclose their identity.

I send tidings of ‘comfort and joy’ to you, your colleagues and to ALL your readers, with sincere thanks to all those who have made a positive difference in Haddington and our surroundings in East Lothian.

Councillor John McMillan

Haddington and Lammermuir ward

Provost, East Lothian Council