SOME events stay with you forever. You will always remember where you where when you heard what had happened.

The hideous attack at Dunblane Primary School on March 13, 1996, was one such. Sixteen primary one pupils and their teacher were killed and hearts in Dunblane and beyond were broken.

The courage and determination of the bereaved families, supported by the whole community of Dunblane, had a lasting and powerful effect with the success of the Snowdrop Campaign ensuring a ban on the private ownership of most handguns.

More recent anniversaries have also been on our minds in the past week as we have passed the one year mark since the declaration on March 11, 2020, by the World Health Organisation that we were indeed in a pandemic situation and the recording on March 13, 2020, of the first confirmed death in Scotland of a patient with Covid-19.

It has been an extremely difficult year for everybody in so many different ways. The restrictions and social distancing which have been so necessary to reduce the spread of Covid-19 has made many of us feel isolated and lonely, increasing stress and anxiety.

So many of us have faced challenges that have, at times been stressful and overwhelming, but I think that the people of Clackmannanshire – and indeed the whole of Scotland – have reacted magnificently.

Back in the summer we had a bit of a false dawn and then in the winter as the new, more-virulent variant emerged in Kent and spread so rapidly, we saw plans for a relaxation of the restrictions at Christmas time reined back and the schools did not return after the holidays.

Now, though, as we head towards Easter, the schools are preparing to bring all pupils back full-time and there is real hope for a further easing of other restrictions.

That hope is due, in the main, to the fantastic progress being made by the vaccination rollout. Without the vaccine we would forever be chasing our tails in trying to suppress this virus.

Alongside this progress we need to continue to stick with the restrictions, to drive down virus rates consistently which will allow us to return to a more normal way of living in the weeks and months ahead.

One of the big concerns about the longer term impact of the restrictions to people's lives over the past year is the impact that it has had on mental health and I was pleased to be able to welcome news this week that within a planned increase in the number of places for nursing students in this coming year, the largest increase will be within mental health nursing, with numbers up by 13 per cent on the previous year and an amazing 76 per cent over the course of this parliament.

The Scottish Government's continuing commitment to addressing concerns about mental health issues is also demonstrated by figures showing that more than 500 additional mental health workers have been recruited over the past three years, in a drive to expand the workforce and improve access to treatment.

That is exactly the sort of commitment to meeting the needs of the Scottish people that we will be looking to build on as we look towards the term of the next parliament on the other side of May's Scottish Parliament elections.