Region's college reflects changing times
Climate and the environment featured prominently at the recent G7 talks in Cornwall and will be the focus at the crucial COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow later this year.
I was, therefore, particularly interested to see the latest green developments at Dumfries and Galloway College where I was shown round this month by principal Joanna Campbell.
Amongst many achievements, the college last year won a Green Gown Award for Sustainability and has been nominated to compete in an international competition.
I'm always impressed by the range of learning opportunities and especially topical are those focusing on green energy and the environment.
The modern well-equipped Stranraer campus is an asset to students from Wigtownshire, which highlights the college's regionwide role and importance.
I look forward to working further with Joanna and the team at the twin campuses in the future.
Important Covid journey milestone
The Covid journey has been long and arduous and as families in Wigtownshire and across the country can testify the crisis brought both illness, loss and distress to many.
Through the remarkable roll-out of the vaccine and extraordinary efforts by NHS staff, other organisations and individuals, we are now in a much better place than we were during the worst periods of the pandemic.
I'm pleased that tentative steps towards lifting some of the remaining restrictions are being made and that will have a positive effect on our everyday lives, work and the wider economy.
In our region, like elsewhere, there have been recent case increases, particularly amongst younger people, and whilst I'm pleased relaxation in the rules remains likely I believe it vital that we all retain sensible caution in our everyday lives to reduce the spread of new variants.
I also agree with MSP colleagues that there appears a strong case for Long Covid clinics, already proving useful elsewhere in the UK, to be developed in Scotland and for a well-resourced route map to tackle the lengthy NHS waiting lists for the full range of conditions requiring urgent attention.
Finally, my congratulations to NHS Dumfries and Galloway for their continued progress with Covid-19 inoculations having passed the milestone of administering first dose vaccine to 90 per cent of adults in the region with almost 70 per cent also receiving their second.
Welcome progress with flood scheme
For some of my constituents in parts of Newton Stewart the fear of flooding from the River Cree is never far from their minds when extreme wet weather appears in the forecasts.
That's why the publication of the proposed plans for a flood prevention scheme and a predicted completion period within four years has been largely welcomed.
The next significant step will be the detailed design phase in which I'm pleased the local authority have given assurances that they will continue to consult with residents.
This is a welcome investment in the future of Newton Stewart and one which will mirror other projects around the UK as we come to terms with weather trends which, as mentioned earlier, are top of the agenda at the fast-approaching Glasgow COP26 UN Climate Change Conference.
Join my good cause funds workshop
Many local charities and voluntary community groups have done magnificent work during the pandemic at a time when, for some, they have experienced a noticeable fall in income.
That's why I was pleased to learn that the People's Postcode Lottery are planning to distribute donations to selected good causes in my Dumfries and Galloway constituency.
At least 33 per cent of the lottery's income from players goes to charities and up to now an estimated £130,000 has been distributed to grass-roots organisations in the region.
I'm delighted that another round of grants is to be distributed soon to grassroots groups in my constituency and I'm pleased to be given a chance to assist in the selection process.
I have agreed to host a funding workshop with the People's Lottery to explain how worthy local groups can find out more about applying for funding.
The event will be by way of a Zoom video conference to take placed on Friday July 2 at 11.30 am. To register to attend representatives of organisations should, in the first instance, email email@example.com
Honours well deserved
It was good to see Dumfries and Galloway represented in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
My congratulations go to gynaecologist Dr Heather Currie, head of women, children and sexual health, acute and diagnostic services at NHS Dumfries and Galloway on becoming an MBE.
I was also delighted that Jamie Brand was recognised being appointed an MBE for his services to music and education.
A principal curriculum teacher in the performing arts in the east of the region and an accomplished choir master, he is best known in Wigtownshire as long-serving director of Dumfries and Galloway Regional Youth Choir.
Lifeline for historic bank museum
I'm delighted that the TSB have responded to the widespread public concern I mentioned in my last Free Press column about plans to close Ruthwell Savings Bank Museum and remove much of the contents to their Edinburgh HQ.
The global savings bank movement founder was the Rev. Henry Duncan, a son of the manse from Lochrutton, Kirkcudbrightshire and amongst many achievements, he was a social reformer, restored the historic Ruthwell Cross, developed schemes to combat poverty and was founder of two newspapers.
TSB, which has a branch in Stranraer, has now offered to transfer ownership of the Ruthwell savings bank cottage and contents to a community group and I wish everyone involved in trying to keep the museum going every success.
Dark days at Sky Observatory
Like many people I was saddened to learn of the fire that all but destroyed the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory near Loch Doon last week.
Although this fantastic facility was located to the north of my constituency, since opening, almost a decade ago, it has proved popular with visitors staying in Galloway and been an attraction for the wider region.
It was at the heart of the area's dark sky branding, an eye on what lies beyond our planet and an educational asset appreciated by visitors of all ages.
Whilst I appreciate this is still early days, I hope the determination of the trust behind the attraction to have the observatory rebuilt proves successful.