IT'S been another year to remember in Renfrewshire and we hope all of our readers have a wonderful Christmas. 

Our community leaders have sent us their festive messages and their wishes for everything 2023 will bring.

Spare a thought for others this festive season

The Gazette: Provost Lorraine CameronProvost Lorraine Cameron (Image: Newsquest)

Christmas is a time for fun – and who could forget the excited feeling in your belly when, as a child, you were tucked up in bed, anticipating what Santa was leaving you?

For me, that was long ago. Gifts were a lot less extravagant but treasured just the same.

Times and social perceptions change – and you would think that things would improve.

Sadly, this is 2022 and yet here we are facing the prospect of families choosing between heating or eating.

But there are things you can do to help. You can donate to a local charity who will make sure there is support available for those in need.

It doesn’t need to be a lot – small gifts can make a huge impact on someone who has nothing.

Christmas is traditionally a time to show others how much you appreciate them. Please spare a thought for our carers, armed forces and emergency services. Many of them won’t get to sit down with their family this Christmas.

Whatever you’re doing this year, I hope your day is filled with love, laughter and peace and you get to make memories that the children in your family will treasure.

There are reasons to look forward with positivity

The Gazette: Council leader Iain NicolsonCouncil leader Iain Nicolson (Image: Newsquest)

Season’s greetings to Gazette readers and your families.

Great strides have been made this year following the pandemic but it remains a very tough time for many residents. Rising bills and the cost of food are just two examples putting pressure on people’s daily lives.

I was proud to be re-elected as council leader in May and my administration has redoubled its efforts to tackle the cost of living.

This has seen emergency fuel support, community food pantries and more breakfast clubs.

We know too the cost of doing business is being felt keenly. We’re with them every step of the way and I’d encourage everyone to ‘spend local.’

While the council faces its own financial challenge which will mean doing things differently over the coming years, there are many reasons to look forward with positivity.

Our capital investment continues, putting in place the infrastructure which connects communities and attracts jobs. This includes the first ever opening road bridge over the River Clyde at Renfrew.

Before I sign off, I’d like to thank our frontline council and healthcare teams who continue to serve our communities with distinction.

I hope everyone enjoys a safe, warm and relaxing festive period and I wish you all a happy new year.

There is more need for Christmas joy than ever before

The Gazette: Christine Murdoch, Moderator of the Clyde PresbyteryChristine Murdoch, Moderator of the Clyde Presbytery (Image: Newsquest)

Joy to the world, the Lord is come.

I love singing Christmas carols. Perhaps this year, more than most, we need a little Christmas joy.

This will be the first Christmas since 2019 that we can celebrate without Covid restrictions. However, I suspect that, this year, we may be cutting back on our celebrations and our gift giving.

Over 2,000 years ago, life for the people of Palestine was extremely grim, as they lived under Roman occupation. They were walking in darkness. And into that darkness was born a child and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

As we live through the darkest time of the year, we need a little joy in our lives. The joy that Christ brings does not ignore the plight of the times.

Rather it is a joy that comes from knowing the peace of God in our hearts, lives and homes.

Ann Weems, having lost her son, knows the very darkest side of life. Yet she can still celebrate with joy. In ‘Oh Lord You Were Born,’ she writes: “You were born and I will celebrate...for unto us Son is given and he was called God with Us. For those of us who believe, the whole world is decorated in love.”

May you know the peace of Christ in your hearts and homes this Christmas.

Festive spirit is alive and well in our communities

The Gazette: Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi BlackPaisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi Black (Image: Newsquest)

The cost-of-living crisis has been at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts this winter.

With fuel and energy prices rising, coupled with the cost of food and essentials skyrocketing, it will, for many, be a really tough time this Christmas.

We have many services, charities and organisations across Renfrewshire that will be on hand to assist anyone who needs support.

You can also get in touch with me anytime, as myself and my team in the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency office will be able to advise you.

It has been great seeing all of the local groups, schools and businesses getting into the festive spirit. It’s also fantastic to see all of the towns and villages lit up and decorated for Christmas.

People around Renfrewshire never disappoint at Christmas time. Having some of that community spirit and showing compassion for those around you has never been so important.

If there is one thing I know, it is that people in Renfrewshire do indeed look out for each other.

I hope everyone manages to spend some time with loved ones this Christmas. Have a peaceful time when it comes and all the best for the new year ahead.

Cost of living will make Christmas tough for many

The Gazette: Renfrewshire South MSP Tom ArthurRenfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur (Image: Newsquest)

I WISH all of my constituents here in Renfrewshire South a very merry Christmas and a happy new year when the time comes.

Thanks to the continuing roll-out of vaccination and booster programmes in Scotland, we are all looking forward to a relatively normal festive season this year.

Over the last 12 months, our challenges have mainly come from cost-of-living increases and soaring inflation. A rising number of constituents have been asking for support with benefits, bills and other financial struggles.

To that end, I have been meeting with local organisations such as Renfrewshire Foodbank and the Lochwinnoch Community Larder.

I have also been holding regular advice surgeries, as well as cost-of-living events with Citizens Advice Bureau representatives in Johnstone.

I am committed to continuing in this vein throughout 2023 and I sincerely hope that, as our economy recovers from recent pressures, we all see a brighter future ahead.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who will be working over the festive period to provide vital services and all of the amazing community organisations who have supported my staff and I to help constituents through the most trying of circumstances.

This is a time for all of us to celebrate the true joys of life

The Gazette: John Keenan, Bishop of PaisleyJohn Keenan, Bishop of Paisley (Image: Newsquest)

The conversation at lunchtime in our office has turned to who has got their Christmas in. Around the table, we share our plans for hitting the shops for gifts that still have to be bought.

For most of us, Christmas is about the joy of giving gifts and finding just the right one that will light up the face of someone we love.

It is about Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and those special hours with everyone gathered around. We gladly empty our purses and wallets, happy that it is all for a good cause.

But, this year, there is a bit more apprehension as we take out our cards and tap them at the checkout machines. Every sale reminds us of a cost-of-living crisis mounting before our eyes.

Maybe it will take us back to the first Christmas, 2022 years ago, in the town of Bethlehem, whose gladness still resounds across the world two millennia later.

It took place in a meagre stable that cost nothing because there was no room at a fancy inn. There were no lights around the lowly manger that held the baby Jesus as Mary and Joseph looked on.

And still it was the happiest place on Earth that night and ever since because all the things that really bring us joy were already there.

Maybe this Christmas, for all its troubles, we will discover that the cost of living does not need to rob us of the true joys of life.

You don’t need all the trimmings to enjoy Christmas

The Gazette: Renfrewshire North and West MSP Natalie DonRenfrewshire North and West MSP Natalie Don (Image: Newsquest)

Firstly, I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

The festive season seems to come around quicker every year and, while this is such a special time for so many people, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis means that many will also be finding it a difficult time as they worry about their finances.

There seems to be a growing amount of pressure on us all to try to create the perfect Christmas and, often, it can make people feel upset and disheartened if they don’t reach this illusory ideal.

It shouldn’t be like this, though. While it can be easy to feel pressured or get carried away at this time of year, you don’t need to have all the trimmings to have a great festive period.

You don’t need the brightest lights on your house or Christmas tree, nor do you need to spend more than you have and end up with excessive debt.

The most important thing this festive season is to spend time with the ones you care about most, whether that is friends or family.

If you are able, spend time trying to relax and look after yourself, take some time out for yourself and your loved ones.

I hope everyone has a relaxing and enjoyable festive break.

Festive celebrations will add colour to dark days of winter

The Gazette: Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Gavin NewlandsPaisley and Renfrewshire North MP Gavin Newlands (Image: Newsquest)

It’s natural to see Christmas and New Year as a time for reflecting on the past and how we’ve arrived at the end of 2022.

Given how big a deal it is nowadays, it’s incredible to think it wasn’t until the 1950s that Christmas became an observed public holiday in Scotland.

Over the years, Scotland has embraced Christmas, in addition to Hogmanay, giving us a collective celebration in the middle of a dark, cold winter.

But that isn’t an option for everyone. Tens of thousands of people will spend their Christmas Day working hard to keep us safe, healthy, fed and watered and to ensure we can stay connected with our loved ones.

And there are too many people in our society who can afford only the minimum of festive cheer – a situation that must change for future years.

I’ll continue to work for those who don’t get to enjoy a picture postcard Christmas – and I’ll be remembering them over the bells.

We live in very trying times but Christmas should be about peace and joy (and hangovers), so however you are celebrating, I hope Santa is good to you and that, along with your loved ones, you all have a wonderful and restive Christmas and a guid new year when it comes.