THIS week's Community Column comes from Vivien Dance, chief executive of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

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Once again, the Chamber wishes to pay tribute to everyone who is working tirelessly and showing a dogged determination to ensure that 2021 will be better than the soul destroying, difficult year we have all endured.

Top of our “thank you” list must be all those involved in the vaccination roll out. Without your input the prospect for the reopening of the economy and commerce in the town would be bleak, and we are grateful for the uplift and the hope you have generated with your efforts.

Local businesses continue to give outstanding service, as they have done since the start of this pandemic. The Chamber holds you all in high regard for the way you have held the town together in this crisis, thank you for your efforts.

READ MORE: Could 20-minute neighbourhood work in Helensburgh?

A report debating what the future holds for town centres in Scotland hit the Chamber’s inbox recently – it’s now available online too, at – and it was reassuring to note that it confirms that Helensburgh has good reason to be positive about our future as a town. In many places the narrative is often about the decline of the town centre, but the report recognises that isn’t the case in many Scottish towns and Helensburgh is just such an example.

It is sad to see our town in lockdown, but the underlying confidence in the town is still palpable and reassuring. New businesses have opened, existing businesses are extending and diversifying, innovative ventures are investing in shop-fitting with openings ready to go post lockdown, additional homes are materialising to help stem the population decline, local people are doing their bit by shopping locally, and our enthusiastic voluntary groups are just waiting to go.

The jag has given us hope for the future, and the grit of our community will help it take us to where we all want to be. The Chamber’s wish for all commerce in 2021 is that we can remove the word “lockdown” from our daily vocabulary in the very near future – and it be replaced for all time by “unlock”.

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