Donald Wilson: Think of those who still suffer

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This year Edinburgh’s Christmas markets and rides have been bigger and better than ever. As we now count down the days to Hogmanay, thoughts turn to the year we are leaving behind.

As the world has marked 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, it has been important in 2014 to remember those local people who have lived and suffered through conflict.

In November, I renamed an area outside the Usher Hall as McCrae’s Place on behalf of the city, in tribute to McCrae’s Battalion. I was astounded at the number of people who came up to me following the street-naming ceremony, to tell me stories about relatives who fought in the battle. On a personal note, I was delighted to rediscover a collection of postcards from the Second World War that had been carefully kept by my great aunt Jessie. These poignant reminders made the stories of war and the local impact all the more real, and allowed me to remember long- lost relatives. One hundred years on, conflict is not yet a thing of the past. The festive season is a chance for those of us lucky enough to live here to consider what life is like in other parts of the world. This year, the Council has joined with the global humanitarian organisation Mercy Corps to offer support and funding for families who are fleeing from war, so that 2015 may be a brighter year.

The Christmas card I’ve posted this year also features an image of The Christmas Truce, which I find to be a fitting reminder of Christmas as a time for neighbours to set aside differences in faith and politics and to instead forge friendships.

Edinburgh really was in the spotlight this year during the Independence Referendum, and more than 84 per cent of the people in Edinburgh who were registered to vote did so. I hope as we enter 2015 and with it the General Election in May, the renewed excitement for politics and democracy continues.

The winter is by no means over yet, which means some of the city’s most vulnerable residents continue to need extra support. As a council, we do a lot to support the elderly, and our social work care team have been working across the winter so people are well looked after. But everyone can do their bit to help. Whether it is offering a helping hand or a friendly chat simple things make a difference.

I hope all residents and visitors had a very Merry Christmas, and I would like to wish everyone in Edinburgh a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Councillor Donald Wilson is Lord Provost of Edinburgh