THE Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Antrim have both spoken of the strong sense of community spirit that shone during the darkest days of the pandemic.
In a special Christmas address, Councillors Jim Montgomery and Noreen McClelland have also paused to reflect on the challenges some families will be facing during a very different festive season.
Repeated lockdowns, furlough and restrictions have had a disorientated effect on many - and the Mayor is the first to admit that time has flashed by.
“It’s hard to believe I am half way through my term as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey” said Councillor Montgomery.
“It has been a privilege to serve this Borough as the First Citizen during what has certainly been a challenging year.
“Over the last number of months I have had the pleasure of meeting many of our residents from across the Borough and seeing at first hand the amazing work that goes on right on our doorstep.
“The power of community spirit has never been more alive than in 2020 and it was heart-warming to witness the extraordinary community solidarity that was so evident during recent months.
“As groups joined forces to ensure their neighbours and communities were fed, supported and remained connected, it was humbling to see so many people volunteer their time and service for others.
“I have enjoyed visiting our many beautiful towns and villages during my engagements. I am extremely proud of our Borough and I want to thank all those who play their part in making it such an attractive and welcoming place to live, work and visit.
“One of the privileges of serving as Mayor is the opportunity to support local charities and I am delighted to be able to lend my support to Air Ambulance and Guide Dogs Northern Ireland.
“I hope you will continue to help me throughout the remainder of my term and raise some vital funds for these charities, both of which are very close to my heart.
“Celebrating Christmas holds a different meaning to each of us. So whatever your hopes and plans are this festive season, I trust that you all have a most enjoyable Christmas and peaceful new year.”
Deputy Mayor Noreen McClelland agreed that it had been ‘a huge honour’ to represent the Borough.
She also acknowledged that the pandemic had inspired locals to shone brightly in the darkest of times.
“It has certainly been a difficult time for many people and I want to pay tribute to all our NHS and healthcare staff and all the key workers throughout the Borough who have kept our country running during the pandemic,” she said.
“In my role as President of St John Ambulance Antrim, I have been fortunate to witness at first hand the generous and selfless support of just a small fraction of the many volunteers we have across the Borough.
“The great sense of community spirit that has prevailed over recent months has been hugely uplifting.
“Amidst the many challenges that we have all faced this year, the one thing we have learnt is that our connections with other people are at the absolute core of what we value.
“So as we look forward to spending time with our loved ones this Christmas period, let’s spare a thought for those who are feeling lonely or vulnerable and reach out to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.”