THE turmoil of the past year, which saw three Prime Ministers, was matched by the challenges of a cost-of-living crisis affecting every household in East Lothian.

Some solutions were found for problems experienced by individuals and families, and I’ve been privileged to help many in the county, especially those struggling with energy costs among other issues. I will continue that work and am sending all residents my best wishes for 2023.

One highlight last year was establishing a new £1 million fund in East Lothian to help with rising energy costs, in co-operation with Community Windpower and Advice Direct Scotland. I hope other areas in Scotland will be able to set up similar schemes. If this is something that would benefit you, or anyone you know, please visit the website community

Local developments reflected broader issues and council elections saw support for the SNP grow across the county. As MSP, I represent all residents, regardless of how you voted, but it’s encouraging to see shared attitudes resulting in positive engagement and communication in our communities.

Nationally, the Supreme Court case went against the SNP, but the opinion polls immediately showed a majority in Scotland in favour of independence, including a turning of the tide in East Lothian itself. I hope that many will support the campaign to protect and restore Scottish democracy, just as Lothian’s majority backed devolution in 1997 and in the 1979 devolution referendum too.

This is also a time to remember those we have lost; in particular, I want to pay tribute to John Mathers, a North Berwick SNP stalwart and a popular personality in the county who died in the early summer.

I owe John a debt of gratitude for his support during my own election campaign and he worked tirelessly right to the end of his life, with the successful campaign to elect Councillor Liz Allan.

John was focused on achieving an independent Scotland, an ambition which sustained his activism for over 50 years.

His dream now seems closer to being achieved and may 2023 see more residents increasingly convinced that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands.