Let me start first by wishing every reader a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
I have visited each of the emergency services at least once in my time as an MP and I think it is at Christmas and New Year that the hard work and dedication which they apply to their jobs really comes to light.
I know thousands of people across the constituency worked Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day and I want to say a personal thank you to all those who did in order to keep us safe here across Wiltshire.
We should also not forget those who worked in restaurants and retail, helping us to enjoy the bank holidays, and of course carers and volunteers who continue to support whatever the day or time of year.
One of the proudest achievements of 2017 is the 182,000 fewer unemployed people compared with the end of 2016 and the record levels of employment we continue to see.
These are real people whose lives and those of their families now have a more secure future. We must continue to work to empower and equip people to get back into work and I am delighted that action taken is paying dividends and giving people financially secure futures.
This year I hope we will be able to come together as a nation and as MPs to continue to make progress on some of the areas I am passionate about and have fought hard to deliver since my election in 2017: delivering better value for our students, ensuring that the price charged for courses reflects the level, quality and amount of tuition being provided; building on the great work of the Homelessness Reduction Act to further tackle homelessness to ensure that next year no one spends Christmas Day without a home and the security this brings; working with the Environment Minister to further strengthen animal rights legislation, an area of so much improvement in 2017 but one where we can still work to ensure we have the highest welfare standards of any country; working to tackle the skills gap in engineering to ensure that businesses have the skills they need and every school child is inspired to create their own future in whatever area they wish.
There are challenges ahead, fighting to secure the best trade deal with the European Union, continuing to deliver economic growth whilst maintaining fiscal discipline and of course continuing to challenge and reduce our carbon emissions to secure the world for future generations.
These are however all in our common interest to deliver and we need to pull together to do so in 2018.