AS SUMMER recess approached, I was looking forward to the prospect of getting out and about around the constituency a bit more and I haven’t been disappointed.

I was absolutely delighted to attend the Alva Games in July. A fantastic day out and a credit to the organisers and the participants, two groups of people without whom wonderful community events like this simply would not be possible.

How good it feels, after two years of restrictions to be able to attend events like this again and I want to sincerely thank everyone who gives so selflessly of their own time and effort to ensure that the Alva Games and so many other community events, large and small, can take place once more.

I have also been able to resume street surgeries, an opportunity for my constituents to meet me on their own doorstep, talk with me and discuss issues of concern to them. Such an important part of the job of an MSP and just great to be doing it again.

As Veterans Minister it has been both my duty and pleasure to have been involved in a number of events marking the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. That role of representing Scotland’s armed forces veterans is very important to me, personally, and the fact that the Scottish Government has a Veterans Minister as well as a Veterans Commissioner shows that view is shared right across Government.

Those positions are not there to give veterans an advantage over everyone else, but to ensure they do not suffer any disadvantage from having served.

For people who have who has served for a long time in the armed forces, the transition to civilian life can sometimes be a very fraught time and, without proper support, difficulties in adjusting can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction or mental health problems.

We owe this to them. And we also owe a duty of remembrance to those whose lives have been lost in wars and conflicts throughout the years, and it was very moving to once again join the McCrae’s Battalion Trust at a commemorative ceremony in the Somme village of Contalmaison where I laid a wreath on behalf of the Scottish Government.

I have been really pleased to see that the importance of Remembrance is being recognised here, too, with the work that has been going on since April, refurbishing Alloa’s impressive War Memorial.

This refurbishment is part of an ongoing programme, involving a very important investment of £30,000 a year by Clackmannanshire Council, refurbishing local war memorials with the memorial at Alva next on the list.

Created by a sculptor who had personal experience of the trenches he depicts, the Alloa War Memorial is a poignant and striking tribute to the fallen and reminder of the awful reality of war. Originally unveiled in 1924 and I was delighted to attend an event earlier this week which unveiled the work that has been carried out by local craftsmen which will see the memorial ready for the next hundred years.

There is a common thread that binds together events like the Alva Games with the care for war memorials, and that is community spirit. Here, in Clackmannanshire, that is something that is certainly not in short supply!