IT has been great to see so many local events taking place across our constituency over the past few weeks, from fayres and concerts to Christmas tree festivals, markets and late-night shopping, writes MP Mel Stride.

Christmas is a time when families and communities come together, and it has been heartwarming to see this across Central Devon. 

I am very grateful to everyone who helped to organise these events, fundraise for local charities and hosted neighbours or friends who would otherwise have been on their own. 

While Christmas is a special time of year for many, others can find it a lonely time.

Having visited many businesses over the course of the year, I know that many are reliant on Christmas trade, so thank you to everyone who has bought their Christmas presents locally. 

We have a wonderful variety of independent shops in the market towns across our constituency and there isn’t much that can’t be found here. 

I have also visited several local schools and I know that many will have been busy putting on Christmas nativities and other performances. Thank you to our dedicated teachers and teaching assistants who work so hard to educate and care for our young people. 

I have had the pleasure of spending time with some wonderful local charities this year. 

There are too many to name, but they include the Bungalow Youth Project in Buckfastleigh, Okehampton Men in Sheds, Chudleigh Youth Centre, the Turning Tides Project in Crediton, Tor Support in Okehampton, Age Concern Crediton, Bovey Paradiso, Action for Children in Hatherleigh, Okehampton Memory Café and the South Devon Railway. 

Most are reliant on volunteers giving up free time, so thank you to everyone in our constituency who has volunteered to help a local charity, organisation or cause. 

Your help really is appreciated, and our communities would not be the same without you.

Volunteers are not alone of course in deserving our thanks. The dedicated members of our emergency services will not benefit from the rest that many of us are looking forward to over Christmas. 

And many brave service men and women will be stationed abroad and separated from their loved ones on Christmas Day. 

To our nurses and doctors who face very busy and difficult winters, our local refuse and recycling teams, our postmen and women, and all those who provide such key services over Christmas – thank you.

I hope my Reporting Back leaflet for 2023 has reached you by now or will do very shortly. 

But if it hasn’t, please find a copy at From farming to post offices, from pensions to climate change, it covers just some of the work I have done this year, locally in Central Devon and up in Westminster.

Best wishes for 2024.

► More from Mel here or following him on X (Twitter) @MelJStride.