As we approach the end of the year, I’m going to use this column to say a special thank you to all the key workers who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic and to our young people.

I started the year teaching in a primary school during lockdown, seeing firsthand the challenges faced by school staff. Since the election in May, I have met with workers from just about every sector of the economy who have kept vital services functioning over the last 20 months.

It has been a challenging time for everyone, but the staff who continued to help feed people, care for them, protect us, and keep our infrastructure functioning deserve our gratitude and respect. Without the dedication of these millions of workers across the public, private and voluntary sectors things could have been much worse.

As schools prepare to close next week for the festive break, I also want to say well done and thank you to all the children and young people in East Lothian and across Scotland. They too have gone through an unprecedented and hugely difficult experience. It has already had various impacts on their young lives and will no doubt influence their futures as well.

Despite the difficulties faced, young people have shown remarkable resilience and great care and consideration for others. I have seen this with the pupils I was teaching at the start of the pandemic and with countless other examples across the country. They deserve great credit for their part in the response to Covid and their contribution to families and communities.

Many of the decisions about their lives, such as the cancellation of exams and home learning, were made with little or no consultation. That should not be allowed to happen again and in future we must ensure young people are involved in all the decisions that affect them and their futures.