HOGMANAY and New Year's celebrations are a chance to reflect on the year gone by and anticipate the year to come in the company of friends and family.

It's a fine tradition but you'd be forgiven for wanting to skip this year.

The coronavirus has taken a huge toll and any contemplations of 2020 are likely to be dominated by the virus.

For many this year will have been characterised by hardship and loss, but we can all reflect on the extraordinary kindness of others this year.

As 2020 comes to an end I'd like to thank all the key workers who put themselves at risk to keep the rest of us going.

Healthcare workers, hospital cleaners, shop workers, teachers and many more besides all deserve our heartfelt gratitude in the new year.

Going forward that gratitude must involve meaningful efforts to secure the rights of key workers and a guarantee that all of them will receive at least a real living wage.

This crisis has highlighted the many injustices in the workplace from insecure contracts to low pay, as we begin the economic recovery from the virus they will need fixed.

The Christmas holidays brought a new wave of stresses for teachers, who've too often been treated as expendable during this crisis.

With schools in Clackmannanshire only breaking up two days before Christmas the risk of transmission just before the festive season was unacceptable.

But the plans for online learning developed during last summer can now fully swing into action for first few weeks of the New Year to help keep us safe.

The new strain of the virus means there's no room for complacency and until the vaccine can be fully rolled out we are in a dangerous phase.

The next few weeks and months are likely to be extremely difficult.

The Tory Government's handling of Brexit negotiations have also been so unforgivably mismanaged, creating added pressure on individuals and businesses at the worst possible time.

But, despite that there is good reason to be optimistic that next year will be better than the one gone by.

During the next few months it's vital that everyone sticks to the latest public health advice because the virus is still with us.

So, while the next few months will likely be tough, the rollout of the vaccine across Scotland brings hope that Covid-19 is reaching the end of the road and we'll finally be free to return to something like normality.

Residents of the Wee County have throughout this year proven their willingness to support one another through these toughest of times.

From Alva Academy pupils hosting virtual concerts for people in care homes, to volunteers distributing gifts to those that need them, in Clacks there is a heartening determination to make sure nobody struggles alone.

We have certainly found positive ways to work and meet online, while changing our work life balance, cutting back on commuting and re-discovering our local communities.

When we look back on 2020 there will be many hard memories for all of us, but let's make sure we don't forget the acts of kindness and the sense of community spirit that helped us get through it all and build on what we truly valued from 2020.