Goodwill to heroes

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I TUNED into the radio last week while stuck in a winter weather-induced traffic jam. One listener was ranting about how this great country of ours is reduced to chaos after a not very significant snowfall. Now it may be that he had been stuck at Heathrow for hours, or days, or that his business was being adversely affected by the snow.

But my observations have been very different because this weather misery has reminded me how vital the emergency services are and how much we take for granted the basic services that daily ensure our personal safety.

For example the paramedics will have been called out on numerous occasions, and will have had to face driving in conditions the rest of us would not think of attempting. The nurses and doctors in A&E will themselves have had to turn out on early mornings and late evenings to be ready to respond to these calls and many others.

The people who drive the gritters and snow ploughs which we have seen around the borough this past month, have a thankless task in trying to fight the elements and keep roads clear and open, sometimes fighting a losing battle.

And without getting political, doing all this with the backdrop of making savings in budgets as a consequence of the government’s spending review.

For me this is a time that as communities we should be trying to pull together, to work together, to support one another in getting through these extraordinary times.

To begin with this means getting off the back of those who are trying their level best, often putting their own lives at risk, to make things better for the rest of us. It means that we all have a part to play, to watch out for each other, for our neighbours, those who may be at risk, and actively supporting them.

Both these would be good New Year resolutions, if we wanted to make them. Both would make a difference, rather than add to the burden of those whose jobs are already at times pretty soul destroying.

And the message of Christmas adds to this a third resolution. The message of the Angels at the birth of Jesus, is peace and goodwill. To work for peace and goodwill in our communities across the borough is necessary work, especially in a time marked out by suspicion and fear.

That would be my third resolution. What would yours be?

Ray Hutchinson Rector, Wigan Parish Church