WHENEVER people ask you what it’s like to be a journalist, it’s always a difficult question to answer.

It is exciting, demanding, challenging, thrilling and, at times, upsetting.

Perhaps most of all though, particularly as a local news reporter, it is rewarding.

This year, which has been my first full year of reporting on Renfrewshire, I have had the privilege of speaking with countless local residents, politicians, artists, musicians, sportsmen and women, as well as plenty of heroic people who have battled against the odds to achieve lifetime dreams.

This job, as you can imagine, sends you on a rollercoaster of emotions but I can’t remember too many times this year where I haven’t felt fulfilled when picking up The Gazette.

This last year has been one full of stories of joy, frustration, heartbreak, achievement and legacy.

When you look back on 52 weeks of stories, it’s hard to pick out the highlights, but there are a few which stick in the mind.

One of the most significant moments of my year was speaking to Scotland international footballer Chloe Arthur, who tragically lost her dad in the Clutha disaster in Glasgow back in 2013.

The Gazette:

Chloe Arthur opened up on dealing with the loss of her dad  

READ MORE: 'I know dad would've been so proud' - Scottish international opens up on losing dad in the Clutha disaster

After helping her country qualify for its first ever Women’s World Cup, she bravely spoke to me about how much she wished her dad could see what she had achieved.

To lose a parent in such horrendous circumstances is hard to fathom and it is difficult being the journalist who is ‘prying’ about such a devastating situation but it was so brilliant to see Chloe share the story across social media when it was published, along with the resulting messages of support for the star player. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Chloe for opening up.

The Gazette:

Local hero Corinne Hutton had a monumental year, peaking with her climb of Mount Kilimanjaro 

Elsewhere, I have come to the conclusion – after almost two years of following the exploits of quadruple amputee Corinne Hutton, from Lochwinnoch – that there is nothing this extraordinary woman cannot do.

Seeing her and her fellow Finding Your Feet troupers reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro was inspirational and extremely life-affirming.

READ MORE: Quadruple amputee on top of the world after climbing Kilimanjaro

Well done to you all for this outstanding achievement.

Sadly, there are many who achieved equally great things who were taken from us this year.

Among them was Jimmy Blackburn, the former manager of Johnstone Burgh, who led the 1964 team to Scottish Junior Cup glory. When he passed away in March, there were widespread tributes and high praise for his phenomenal achievement, which we hope one day will be repeated.

READ MORE: Touching tributes to former Scottish Cup-winning Burgh boss

Another was Leighanne Sanderson, from Renfrew, who battled hard against a brain tumour until the cancer tragically proved too powerful.

The mum-of-one defied the odds at times and I am looking forward to reporting on the work her sister Katie continues to do for other patients.

READ MORE: Heartbroken sister vows to make sure Leighanne Sanderson's memory lives on

On a happier note, what a fantastic year it has been for our towns and villages in terms of investment, development and victories for the people.

In Johnstone, we have seen the dilapidated former Paton’s Mill transformed into a thriving retail park, while St Anthony’s Primary School received a multi-million pound investment.

Oh, and we can’t forget the hard-fought battle to stop parking charges being introduced in the town centre, which was eventually won.

In Paisley, the town has well and truly risen from the ashes this year, following up a devastating defeat last December in its bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 with a determination to build on the legacy created by the bid.

I’m excited to see the new museum begin to take shape, along with the development of Paisley Town Hall.

Thanks to everyone in Renfrewshire who has made this a stellar year to be a local reporter. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2019.