Many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020.
A year that started with such promise, brought hardship and grief in the form of Covid-19. For many, it will be remembered for the moments that were missed, and the loved ones we have lost.
And yet this pandemic has also brought out the best in people. Neighbours have looked out for people in need, our NHS and care staff have shown just how brilliant they are, and our scientists and medical experts have worked round the clock to help beat this virus.
We continue to face a really serious situation with the virus in Kent. These mid-winter days are some of the darkest of the year, and we are in one of the darkest moments of this pandemic.
I urge everyone to take all possible care and remember that any of us could unknowingly have the virus - 1 in 3 people who have it have no symptoms but can pass it on. Our hospitals are so full, if you need urgent treatment you should absolutely seek it, but we must all do what we can to avoid contributing to the number of Covid patients they are caring for.
With that said - brighter days are on the way. We now have two vaccines approved for use in the UK, which we are rolling out as quickly as possible. Crucially, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine means we can vaccinate more people, faster – especially those in care homes.
Our Brexit deal means we can start our new relationship with the EU as good friends and neighbours and make the most of new opportunities.
And there is new urgency in our plans to level up investment and opportunities across our communities, with fairer funding for schools, new roads, and better healthcare.
This is a difficult start to the New Year, but I am absolutely confident that better days for our community and country are ahead.
I wish everyone a very Happy New Year.