During the months since taking on the Chairmanship of North Kesteven District Council, I have been privileged to represent the Council extensively throughout the County and District.
Along the way I have seen some wonderful examples of community endeavour and selfless service – not least among the record number of deserving finalists for our NK Community Champion Awards in October.
I never cease to be struck by the depth of community spirit that forms such a solid foundation to life in our towns, villages, neighbourhoods, businesses, schools and homes within North Kesteven; a characteristic that is very distinct locally.
Such a sense of serving others really comes to mind at Christmas when we all seek to look out for each other, to open our homes and our hearts and express our humanity through warmth, kindness and hospitality.
My thoughts turn to those who will be working quietly, tirelessly, and often voluntarily, behind the scenes, as much as in the public eye, in their service to others, ensuring that life ticks along, as we would expect, over the festivities.
I am particularly mindful of the emergency and caring services and those working in support of them, providing security, safety and both life-saving and life-enhancing care around the clock, and often in the most difficult of circumstances.
This year, through my charity fundraising for Sleaford Dementia Support, providing support, activities and guidance to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their carers, I have become acutely aware of the enormous difference relatively small gestures can make to someone’s life, especially where these are consistent and constant.
At Christmas, we recall so many who give up their time and comforts in support of others, as bins still need to be emptied, babies need to be born, meals need to be provided, housing found for people in crisis, roads kept free of ice and medical support given. Our Armed Forces are deployed, police, fire and ambulance crew on duty and countless others on standby.
And so I thank everyone in our District who puts themselves out for the welfare of others and implore those who can, to do whatever they can in the care of neighbours and others in our communities who may be in need of a little help this Christmas time; whether it be in collecting groceries, clearing snow from paths or just a few minutes of conversation.
Such a show of good old-fashioned neighbourliness is a strength of our society locally and one of the many things that makes North Kesteven such a wonderful place.
This Christmas I pray that we all take a moment to stop and think of anyone we know in our street or wider community who may be in need. Whether it be as simple as a smile, a lift, a helping hand or a show of concern – let’s all do our bit to spread a bit of Christmas cheer and carry that consideration forward with us into 2019.
With wishes for a happy festive season and a healthy, prosperous New Year to all residents and businesses in North Kesteven.
Councillor Geoff Hazelwood, Chairman & Ward Member for Sleaford, Quarrington & Mareham