AS this incredibly difficult year draws to a close, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

This year the Coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us in some way. Many of us have lost loved ones.

This Christmas, my heart goes out to everyone who is struggling, missing a loved one or isolated from their family.

Christmas is a time when we can reflect on the year that has just gone.

I want to say a massive thank you.

Thank you to the care workers and NHS staff who have risked their lives to save others.

Thank you to the supermarket staff and delivery drivers who have kept us all fed and connected.

Thank you to all of our key workers who have kept us safe and kept our country going.

There is nothing that I can say that will even come close to doing you justice. We all owe you a debt which can never be repaid.

I’ve seen some incredible acts of kindness within my own constituency.

I’ve been so proud to volunteer with Oldham Street Angels to make sure our most vulnerable are able to access the support they need.

It was also wonderful to meet with volunteers from Action Together to learn how they have been helping keep people safe and well this year.

I am always proud to be a patron of Ashton United in the Community. Their excellent pop up pantry has made sure families don’t have to go hungry. It’s sad that something like that is needed but it’s heartwarming to see that people really do care.

We look after each other when times get tough and thanks to the excellent effort of AUITC’s Christmas Robin Appeal and the generosity of the community, 27 local families will receive a Christmas Hamper and 76 local children will get a Christmas gift.

When I sit down for my Christmas dinner, I’ll be thinking of my old work mates from when I was a care worker in Stockport - because for our care workers and so many other key workers, their work doesn’t stop on Christmas Day. I hope that at some point over the festive period, you get a well-earned break.

Next year, I will continue to fight to make sure that you get the pay rise and the respect that you deserve.

This year has been a tough year for all of us. Our country has suffered more than almost any other.

But thanks to the sacrifice of our key workers on the frontline, and the spirit of the British people in keeping each other safe, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And I hope that, even in the most difficult of circumstances, everyone is able to have a Merry Christmas.