First Minister pays tribute to ‘small army’ sacrificing Christmas plans in vaccine centres
The First Minister has paid tribute to the “small army” who have “sacrificed their Christmas plans to work in vaccine centres”.
Mark Drakeford said that their “dedication and service means so much to us all” in his 2021 Christmas message to the nation.
He warned that we are still “in the shadow of the pandemic” during the Christmas period, but added in Wales we will “draw on our deep tradition of working together to get through tough times”.
He said this will help the country “look ahead to better times with hope and with optimism”.
The Christmas message says: “Happy Christmas to you all – Nadolig Llawen.
“I hope you all have a safe Christmas and that it is a time of rest and of peace.
“As we gather with friends and families, we do so still in the shadow of the pandemic.
“But here in Wales, we will once again draw on our deep tradition of working together to get through tough times.
“To lend a hand to family, friends and neighbours. And to look ahead to better times with hope and with optimism.
“This Christmas, many people will be working around the clock to keep us safe.
“From community volunteers to NHS staff and our emergency services.
“A small army of people have sacrificed their Christmas plans to work in vaccine centres across the country to make sure we all have the protection we need against this awful virus.
“Their dedication and service means so much to us all.
“Thank you for everything you do – Diolch yn fawr i chi gyd.
“I wish you all a happy, restful and peaceful Christmas.
“Merry Christmas – Nadolig Llawen i chi gyd.”
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies also sent out a Christmas message.
“Whilst last Christmas was very different for people, it was full of hope for the future as the vaccine programme kicked off,” he said.
“And while this festive period we are facing difficult choices due to Omicron, we are in a far better position compared to this last time last year thanks to the dedication of our NHS staff, Armed Forces and the volunteers in support.
“Even though the clapping might have stopped, I know that everyone is truly grateful for their dedication and sacrifice throughout the pandemic.
“Personally, this year has made me realise just how lucky I am to have a loving family around to support me.
“As I am sure many of you know, I stepped away from frontline politics for a while in the autumn following medical advice.
“In September and early October, a rough bout of flu and then coronavirus straight after really knocked me for six and took a toll on my mental wellbeing.
“I want to thank everyone – from right across the political divide – who sent me their kind wishes, and I’d like to say a special thank you to my wife Julia and my four children for all their help and support over the last few months.
“The stigma surrounding mental health had stopped many people – especially men, including myself – from confronting their feelings and their mental health.
“That’s been particularly acute over the past two years, and the pandemic’s impact on the mental health of the nation has really taken its toll.
“But I hope if people only take one thing away from my message today, it’s to share how you’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to get the help and support you need.
“As we enter the final preparations before the big day – when I hope that people will be with their families tucking into our Christmas dinner – I’d like to pay tribute to those might not be able to share Christmas with their families; police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, care workers, nurses and our armed forces who will be putting on their uniform and working hard to keep us safe.
“They deserve an extra thanks for working around the clock, often under enormous pressure, not just during the pandemic but year in, year out.
“This Christmas I will also be raising a glass to two superb politicians and community champions who the Conservative family sadly lost this year.
“Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, and James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, were cruelly taken from us in tragic circumstances just days apart.
”I know I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in the Welsh Conservatives when I say we will never forget them and their service to their community, country and party.
“In recent days, we’ve seen the return of restrictions in Wales. In many respects, it’s been a reminder the challenge of the pandemic hasn’t quite disappeared.
“But I’m a big believer in the saying that its always darkest before dawn. The great British vaccine programme is protecting more and more lives, and whilst early studies show that Omicron might be more transmissible, thankfully its impact on hospitalisations and deaths has so far been limited.
“As a country, we’ve led the way particularly with our world-class vaccine programme. From our scientists to our medical personnel, we are blessed with some of the best brains in the world, and they will ensure our greatest days lie ahead.
”In closing, I would like to wish families across Wales a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Make the most of the cherished time with loved ones this Christmas. Enjoy a drink or three, and I’ll be sure to join you.
”After all, that is what Christmas is all about.”