2022 has been challenging, especially for East Lothian individuals and families in hardship, facing rising prices.

I’ll always support Holyrood budgets prioritising the most vulnerable, certain that those most able will willingly contribute their fair share and believe the majority in East Lothian want that fairness.

A low point this year was the Truss Government’s proposal to cut taxes for the UK’s richest people. Decent pay for key workers, including nurses, will always matter more in Scotland than luxury lifestyles for an elite; Scottish public sector pay agreements have set an example south of the Border.

However, MSPs at Holyrood lack full control over Scotland’s economy; my Christmas message in this week’s Courier suggests how East Lothian can play its part in addressing that.

It’s been humbling to have the confidence of constituents who’ve asked for help this year and, across the county, thousands have shown kindness to others, including to Ukrainian refugees. The Tory Government talks about the ‘small boats’ problem but, however refugees, migrants, or asylum seekers arrive, they’re human beings fleeing war, persecution or poverty, needing a safe haven to restart their lives. Individuals and families offered them a welcome and I commend their unprecedented generosity.

Volunteers in vital settings from foodbanks to youth groups embodied community spirit while local businesses, shop workers, trades, hospitality and tourism went the extra mile to keep the county functioning and thriving. Carers, health staff, police, fire service, Coastguards and lifeboat crews keep residents safe and well. Pandemic applause for key workers should echo now in thanks to all those who develop East Lothian’s sense of wellbeing for all residents.

All our teachers support young people developing the skills they need to lead rewarding lives and can never be thanked enough for their professionalism and dedication. Protecting the planet remains our most urgent issue and thanks are due to transport workers, East Lothian Council’s waste and recycling teams, and other groups for hands-on efforts to tackle the climate emergency.

At Christmas time, please support our local businesses and ensure that children, the elderly, and the most vulnerable enjoy some seasonal cheer. I’m wishing all a less stressful 2023.