EARLIER this month, we held our annual Remembrance Day, which is the time where as a society we come together to remember those who have died in war and conflicts and to pay tribute to our Armed Forces community who continue to put their lives at risk for the freedom we all enjoy.

It is a sad sign of these times that because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that commemorations this year were not able to be held in the usual way.

However, as across Scotland, communities in Clackmannanshire came up with innovative and thoughtful ways to mark the occasion and the many wreaths still on display at war memorials across the county serve as a reminder of the occasion.

In parliament last week, I spoke in a debate about the Scottish Government's fourth annual update on support for the Armed Forces and Veterans community in Scotland – an issue that many will know is of longstanding interest to me.

Despite the challenge we have faced over the last year, I was pleased to highlight the sustained progress being made to support our Veterans and Armed Forces Community and to note some of the that adjustments have been made as a result of the pandemic.

During the debate I took the opportunity to raise concerns over the future of the historic Black Watch Regiment following accounts that the UK Defence Secretary had been told the army needs to make reductions to its 30 infantry battalions.

I called for a united approach from across the chamber to speak out against any attempt to remove the Black Watch and I was pleased that the prime minister later ruled out any moves to axe the world-famous regiment.

Over the last few weeks the good news from Pfizer, Moderna and now Astra-Zeneca about vaccines against Covid-19 have given us cause for optimism. These are just three of 12 vaccine undergoing phase 3 trials worldwide, including 3 involving clinical trials here in Scotland.

We've seen unprecedented investment worldwide in research, development and manufacture; people across the world – including here in Scotland – volunteering to take part in clinical trials; and driven and dedicated research teams.

Vaccinating the adult population in Scotland – everyone 18 and over – is 4.45 million people. The Scottish Government has, rightly, worked on a four-nations basis to secure the vaccines and agreement on the population share of the doses purchased for each of the UK nations.

From December, the Scottish Government expects to see the first delivery of vaccines to Scotland and over the coming weeks and month will be sending out information explaining what the vaccine is, how they are prioritising who gets the vaccine, what to expect when you are vaccinated.

Scotland has an excellent track record on vaccinations, but this is to be one of the biggest civilian logistical challenges in our lifetime.

It will require a combined effort across government, the NHS planning teams, local authorities, local resilience partnerships and the military.

A safe and effective vaccine does bring hope. It gives us all encouragement that where we are now will end.

But right now, we have to all keep following the necessary restrictions tough though I know they are, keep washing our hands, wearing face coverings, keeping 2m distance. That's how we protect ourselves, our loved ones and our NHS as science itself brings us hope.