ALONG with other councillors and elected representatives and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, I had the great honour of attending the Remembrance service at the Duntocher and Hardgate war memorial beside Duntocher Trinity Church on Sunday.

This joint ecumenical service was attended in great numbers, in spite of the horrible weather, by many locals and those from further afield in honour of those who unselfishly paid the ultimate price in the ‘war to end all wars’ and WW2 and subsequent conflicts across the globe.

The clergy participating commented on the weather and the harsh conditions that our brave service men and women endured over the last 104 years, and continue to do so to allow us the freedom to make our own choices – whether that is the choice to wear a poppy or not, or whether this is a democracy that we are afforded.

At the end of the service I, along with my Labour ward colleague, Councillor Douglas McAllister, spoke to many folk from Duntocher and Hardgate about the aptly named Christmas Tree-gate, where our local communities will this year forgo any provision of a Christmas tree via the council.

The provision of a tree is one that, in my opinion, helps to foster that sense of community spirit that was embodied when the boys and men of our local communities volunteered to go off to war more than a hundred years ago and subsequently.

A number of locals, in particular Glynis Boyle and Sarah Fitzpatrick Young, have been trying to organise an event which would centre around the Christmas tree in Duntocher and allow folk to put messages on the tree for those residents who have died during the year or remembering those that had previously died.

Douglas and I are working hard to ensure that the tree – for which Glynis has already secured more than £600 in donations via a JustGiving page – becomes the centrepiece of the village in good time before Christmas. Similar efforts are well under way in Faifley and Hardgate.

This is not about party politics: this is about helping our communities to celebrate this Christmas, and helping them mark the passing of those dearly-departed members of our communities.