One of the many joys of being the council’s Provost is that it affords me the opportunity to meet a variety of local people of all ages and from many different backgrounds.

I have already commented on a number of occasions about just how much I enjoy conducting the Provost’s Primary 7 School Debates and chatting afterwards with our inspiring young people.

It gives me real hope for the future when I meet the pupils in our schools.

It is equally uplifting to meet and speak to older people in our community. In the last few months, I have met with a number of groups that exist specifically to deal with the needs and welfare of our elderly citizens.

These groups are invaluable in combatting the modern scourge of loneliness and social isolation, particularly among elderly people who live alone.

In my role as Provost, it was great to meet members of groups such as the Barrhead Men’s Shed and the University of the Third Age and to get an insight and, indeed, a greater appreciation of the excellent work undertaken therein and the subsequent health and welfare benefits that flow from these activities.

I also have the enormous privilege of meeting a number of our citizens who have reached the grand old age of 100. I am constantly amazed at the breadth of their life experiences and I invariably leave these remarkable people with a sense that their lives have been incredibly well lived.

It is right and proper that our council marks these birthdays and supports the work of the Lord Lieutenant, who brings official birthday greetings from Her Majesty the Queen.

Many of our 100-year-old residents are still as sharp as a tack. I met one gentleman, recently turned 100, who still did The Herald crossword every day, albeit his eyesight was not great and he needed some help from others to read the clues to him.

It is always a pleasure to share the joy of their families that they are still going strong at 100.

We also mark Diamond Wedding celebrations when a couple reach their 60th anniversary.

It is important that couples who would like their Diamond Wedding anniversary marked by ERC let the council or the Lord Lieutenant’s office know of this important date in good time.

On a different note, we will shortly be raising the flag to support all those who served in the Merchant Navy during recent conflicts. This is a relatively recent innovation but it is important that we acknowledge and thank all those who served in the Merchant Navy, in a similar fashion as we do to honour and acknowledge those who have served in our Armed Forces.

I recently met with a veteran who served on the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War. He had recently been awarded the Arctic Star and I enjoyed marking his award on behalf of ERC and also getting the chance to better understand the challenges faced by such brave people.

It is also interesting to know just how revered these veterans are in Russia, which continues to bestow well-deserved honours on them to this day.

Their service and sacrifice is not forgotten in Russia. Here in the UK, we are belatedly recognising the brave men and women who served in the Merchant Navy and performed heroic work on such as the Arctic Convoys.