May I, on behalf of Monmouthshire County Council, wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

At this time of year, we must give thanks to those both in public and private service who find themselves working for us during the festive season.

Hospitals, nursing homes and emergency services workers all take this in their stride and we thank them for their loyalty and dedication in keeping us all safe.

Those employed in hotels and restaurants also work unsocial hours, providing both residents and visitors with great Monmouthshire hospitality.

Over the past few weeks we have had the privilege of visiting many school nativity plays and concerts and have seen first-hand the great work that goes on in education. The Christmas holidays provide our school staff with a well-earned break allowing them to recharge their batteries for what is a very challenging occupation.

Our churches and religious groups such as the Salvation Army provide for those less fortunate than ourselves and I am sure that our community will generously support the great work that they do.

We are blessed with many volunteers who, throughout the county, dedicate themselves to others. This work makes our county such a splendid place to live and work. To everyone who volunteers whether by being involved in committees or as an individual your work is recognised and appreciated.

My year of office is over half way through and may I say what a privilege it has been to support so many good people and all that they do for our wonderful county.

Sheila Woodhouse (Chair, Monmouthshire County Council)