Last week I was very busy with preparation for the full County Council meeting on Friday.
Our Flood Report was also published last week, and it was really heartening to have so much interest from the press, which meant some radio and TV interviews. The press play such a key role in helping to deliver news stories which are of interest to the residents.
It is easy to forget that the media also play an important community role, which is why on Wednesday morning I was in the Chichester FM Studio to do an interview on our Age With Confidence initiative. Chichester FM has a short term licence to operate, and is being run out of a readymade studio in the Chichester Observer offices. It is a really good community station, providing local information and news stories, and I really do hope that it comes back again soon.
On Wednesday evening I attended the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Annual Carol Service, which is held in Chichester Cathedral. It is a special service for retired and active West Sussex Fire Officers and their families, and this year the new Bishop of Chichester also attended the service.
During the Carol Service the children present are invited to put a decoration on the tree which is always a touching moment. To me this service really does signal the start of Christmas.
Friday was full County Council and before the start I was able to enjoy more Christmas carols, firstly from singers from the West Sussex Music Service led by Julie Oldham, and then from The Oak Community Project in Rustington and The Pines Day Centre in Durrington, two of our services for adults with learning difficulties. The choirs sang with such joy and pleasure, it touched everyone's heart.
As I drove home on Friday evening the news was breaking about the horrific shooting in the school in Newtown, Connecticut. As the details have unfolded over the last few days, it is almost impossible to comprehend such action which so cruelly cut short so many young lives all filled with hope and promise for the future, and the amazing bravery of the teachers who tried to protect their charges and put them first, but all the while must have been absolutely terrified.
Like so many people, the families and community are very much in my thoughts and prayers.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.