Let me start my first Reporter column of 2021 by wishing a very Happy New Year to you all.

My year began with the announcement of the amazing finalists in the Provost’s Civic Awards – an event that is humbling and inspiring every year.

We are, of course, unable to go ahead with the award event this year due to restrictions, however we will still be ensuring those who have gone the extra mile are recognised.

What did not change was the difficulty myself and the rest of the judging panel had shortlisting the many worthy nominees.

Every single person we read about had gone above and beyond to help in their community.

It always astounds me how much time and effort our residents give up to help others – be that volunteering, raising money or just simple acts of kindness around West Dunbartonshire.

This year, these people are a reminder of how we have all worked together and done our bit to navigate through the ongoing pandemic.

I recognise that it has been a challenging start to 2021 for us all as we continue in our fight to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

As the year anniversary of the first lockdown approaches, it would be easy to concentrate on what hasn’t improved or worry that things won’t get better.

But do not forget all that we have achieved in the past year.

We have had to make changes and adapt but we have risen to that challenge – our school pupils are remote learning, we’ve become Zoom call experts, we even see people making the most of the outdoors by using our beautiful countryside and open spaces to exercise.

As a council we’ve moved services online and successfully carry out committee business virtually.

And now the vaccination roll out is well underway across West Dunbartonshire, we can take a sigh of relief that our most vulnerable residents have enhanced protection from this virus.

Yes, things still look quite different to what we are used to, but we can be proud of how far we have come along the way.

The government’s own figures confirm that case numbers, in West Dunbartonshire and the rest of Scotland, are falling, so the sacrifices you are making are truly worthwhile.

Please keep adhering to the Scottish Government guidance and staying at home where possible.

If not for yourself, do it for your family and friends, and do it for your community.