As children and young people return to schools and Early Learning Centres across West Dunbartonshire, I hope you have managed to have some kind of break over the holidays and you got to enjoy the spell of good weather.

Many of us have enjoyed a staycation this year and I have heard many wonderful stories of people holidaying in Scotland for the first time instead of travelling abroad.

I sincerely hope that this trend will continue as the world recovers from Covid and those who have enjoyed their holiday will consider staycations in the future which are a welcome boost for our tourism industry.

I had the pleasure of attending the presentation recently of a medal to George Troup MBE who has dedicated 50 years of his life to the Sea Cadets.

I’ve met George on several occasions when the Sea Cadets have supported the council at civic engagements over the years. It was an honour to attend and mark this special occasion with George and his family.

Everyone has worked extremely hard to get us to this point in the pandemic and I would urge you not to drop your guard and to please continue following the advice and guidance to ensure we keep moving in the right direction.

Case numbers and infection rates in West Dunbartonshire remain among the highest in Scotland, and the news last week that five more Covid-related deaths had been recorded in our area in the week to August 15 was very upsetting. I extend my condolences to all of those who have lost loved ones, recently and throughout the pandemic, to the disease.

If you have been invited to attend for your first or second vaccine dose, but have not yet managed along, please ensure you visit one of the drop-in centres being held regularly at venues throughout the area.

You’ll find information on the latest dates and times for West Dunbartonshire’s drop-in vaccination centres on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde website.

It is important for our recovery for eligible people to get vaccinated against Covid and for us to continue to use lateral flow testing at home.

Finally, as we cautiously return back to normality, it would be wrong of me not to once again thank the many workers in the area who, despite the risks to themselves and their families, continued to work throughout the pandemic.

The commitment and dedication they have shown to help our residents, especially those in greatest need, is something that I, and others, will be forever grateful for. On behalf of everyone in West Dunbartonshire, thank you.