AS we make plans for a very different Christmas and 2020 draws to a close, I reflect on how the Stonehouse community has pulled together this year like no other.

Within a week of the first lockdown being announced, a helpline was set up by the town council for residents who were self-isolating and did not have family assistance.

A leaflet was produced to promote the service and ask for volunteers and we had over 40 people come forward to help deliver food and medication or just to be a phone buddy.

We partnered with the Long Table to set up a frozen meal service and Churches Together provided the volunteers to deliver them.

We now have Support Stonehouse, a group hosted by the town council which brings together community groups and organisations to help with the physical, mental and emotional support that our residents need.

To date, we have purchased toiletries for distribution by APT, created, printed and distributed fliers to promote the Long Table’s Freezers of Love and bought a book for each primary-age child in the town for Christmas.

Throughout the crisis, businesses in the town have worked hard to stay open, within the various challenging trading restrictions, and we have encouraged residents and visitors to shop locally.

So much good work has gone on in our town (much of it not publicly acknowledged) to help friends, neighbours and sometimes complete strangers in their time of need and, in the last nine months, extraordinary kindness, fortitude and team spirit has shone through in our local community.

I would like to express my gratitude to NHS workers, teachers, police officers and other frontline staff who have, and continue to work to keep us all safe and maintain essential services.

Finally, I wish all of your readers a happy and healthy Christmas a better new year.