AS this is my first column in 2019, I would like to wish you all a happy and peaceful new year.

I spent the festive period with my family, gearing myself up for what I am sure will be another non-stop 12 months.

As I said in my Christmas message, 2018 was a good year, giving me more opportunities to meet with more residents and businesses to find out the issues that really matter to you.

I’ve invited government ministers to pay a visit to East Renfrewshire to find out first-hand how things like Universal Credit are working on the ground here and to get honest feedback about how we can do better.

Dozens of advice surgeries have helped me to support nearly 3,000 constituents with various issues.

In recent weeks, as well as joining members of the Barrhead Men’s Shed for their fifth birthday celebrations, I also announced the winner of my Christmas card competition.

I received hundreds of incredible entries from primary school pupils across the East Renfrewshire constituency but it was Oliver Sass, from St Joseph’s Primary, in Clarkston, whose design was sent to more than 3,000 local homes, as well as being hand delivered to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.

Many thanks to Waitrose and Scottish Power Renewables for sponsoring the competition.

I was delighted to be joined by Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw on a visit to St Joseph’s Primary so we could congratulate Oliver on his achievement.

There were also a total of 10 runners-up – one drawn from each primary school in East Renfrewshire that took part in the competition.

The standard of designs produced by the pupils was extremely high again this year and the artistic talent in our primary schools is there for all to see.

Oliver’s card was the one that really caught our eye and we were very happy to announce he had won our competition.

Meanwhile, at Westminster, it was a bit of a roller-coaster of a year, with Brexit uncertainty continuing to loom heavy on the minds of many.

My commitment to East Renfrewshire remains the same – that a chaotic, damaging ‘No Deal’ Brexit must be avoided.

All options must remain on the table to ensure that doesn’t happen.

As a new year begins, I would also like to look back on 2018 by paying tribute to Neilston schoolboy Ben McKenzie, who tragically died at the age of 13.

Ben had been the victim of cyber-bullying and I raised this tragedy in Parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions to remind MPs that, whilst we argue about Brexit, the real world continues and there are many people who need us to get on with important issues now.

I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for her serious and sincere response and I will be making this issue a personal priority during my time in Parliament.

I’ve been incredibly moved by the messages I’ve received from people across the country, including parents who have lost a child to suicide and kids who have suffered or are still suffering from bullying.

If you are struggling, please reach out. You can contact me through my office. Samaritans are also on hand 24/7 and you can call them on 116 123.

Please look after yourself and your neighbours in 2019 and let’s all play our part in making it a year to remember for all the right reasons.