HERE'S a Christmas message from Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset:

A year ago I could never have imagined that I would be writing you a Christmas message in the circumstances where we now find ourselves.

But Covid has brought us a lot of previously unimaginable things: the wearing of masks in shops, the need to socially distance ourselves from each other and the depressing prospect of bars, cafes and restaurants having to remain closed at those times of the year when they should have been doing their briskest business.

As I am writing this the figures appear to be suggesting that despite all the efforts and sacrifices we have made over the past nine months we cannot yet relax the precautions currently prevailing in Somerset. There are still too many cases being reported, still too many transmissions.

So it is going to be not merely the strangest Christmas any of us have experienced but the one we shall least want to look back on and remember.

I know we are all being allowed a small degree of leeway to celebrate, some temporary relaxation of the restrictions to allow family celebrations to take place.

But I would plead with everyone to remain ultra-vigilant and to remind themselves that the hidden menace of the virus is still there and still likely to strike anyone without warning. And the fact that the rules are being relaxed offers no kind of immunity.

It is only by all of us remaining alert to that continuing threat and by all of us observing all the precaution urged on us that we are going to get through the festive season without triggering a third wave of infections – a prospect none wants to see materialise.

So my message this year is a clear one: I hope you all enjoy Christmas but equally I hope you do so safely and without taking any risks which you might find yourselves regretting deeply in a few weeks’ time.

And while we raise a glass or two let us all remember the immense amounts of dedication and devotion displayed by NHS workers over the last nine months without which there is no doubt the pandemic would have caused even greater devastation.

Equally let us remember the fantastic efforts of scientists to develop, test and release in record time those vaccines which are now holding out real hope of life returning to something like normal for all of us next year.

May you all have a relaxing and enjoyable – but, most importantly, safe – Christmas.