As 2023 draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on a few incidents, both from a community and personal perspective, which have prompted me to look at things differently.

I’ve always taken my health and independence for granted, but when I took a tumble earlier in the year I was suddenly forced to change my routines and found myself relying on the help and support of others to do even the simplest of tasks.

Venues and locations which I frequently visited prior to my fall presented me with huge accessibility challenges as I struggled to navigate my way around in a wheelchair.

This brief period of disability really opened my eyes to some of the challenges our communities have to deal with on a daily basis.

Road safety was never far from my thoughts throughout the year, with accident hotspots on the A76 between Kilmarnock, Mauchline and Cumnock often appearing in the headlines, causing upset and grief for local families.

Speeding on these roads is becoming a real cause for concern and we must work with partners to try and minimise these dangers in the future.

On a more positive note, I’m pleased that our young people at Robert Burns Academy are supporting our local campaign for the reopening of the train stations at Mauchline and Cumnock.

This commuter route could be a real lifeline for our young people as they look for jobs and training opportunities in other parts of the country and I look forward to seeing how this evolves in the new year.

This is a precious time of year - a time for giving, sharing and caring and for looking after each other. My very best wishes to you all for 2024.