I was humbled by the faith placed in me by the residents of Saltcoats and Stevenston when I was re-elected for a second term last May.

To be given this opportunity to continue to serve the people of the area in which I was born and brought up, and where I still live, is an honour.

Over the last few years I have witnessed the growth of community engagement and it has been a privilege to work with, and support, a number of community organisations.

Among these is the Three Towns Men’s Shed whose journey I have shared from the group’s inception to current efforts to remedy problems at their premises in Glasgow Street.

We have become increasingly aware recently of the adverse effects of social isolation, particularly among men.

This organisation allows men, usually retired, to meet others, while continuing to put a variety of skills into practice in a congenial and safe environment.

It has also been a pleasure to support the work of Sea Salt Streets and Gardeners, who have been instrumental in reviving Saltcoats town centre with their colourful floral displays.

Their initiatives have also included commissioning the hugely popular artwork, which includes the stunning mural by local graffiti artist Tragic O’Hara, and picture boards in the town centre.

Another community group whose achievements are to be commended are the Three Towns Growers.

On my frequent visits to the allotments my green-fingered friends have taught me more than I ever knew about nature and plants, and their knowledge now extends to expertise in bee- keeping.

I can confirm that the honey produced is delicious!

One of my proudest moments since becoming a councillor was to appear as Betsy Miller to “cut the ribbon” on the pirate ship at the new Winton Circus Playpark.

From the moment I was contacted by Saltcoats Active Lifestyle Team, seeking my support, I was bowled over by the enthusiasm and commitment shown by each member of this group.

Within a year of its formation, SALT’s aim was achieved, bringing to the Three Towns a wonderful new play area which has already proven to be a huge attraction for residents and visitors alike.

Countless members of the public and local businesses rallied round to support this initiative, both financially and emotionally, for which the group and I are truly grateful.

Groups like these, made up of unpaid volunteers, are the lifeblood of our communities and must be commended for the work they do in improving our wee part of the Ayrshire coast, and for helping bring people together. local community engagement is alive and well!

In my new role as North Ayrshire Council’s Mental Health Champion I will continue to support these community groups whose initiatives not only enhance the lives of others but contribute towards the mental wellbeing of their members.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the unstinting support given by officers and staff at NAC, in particular those from Connected Communities and Streetscene.

My appreciation for their engagement and cooperation cannot be stressed enough.