OUR latest Community Column comes from Vivien Dance, chief executive of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

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LOCKDOWN, and all the unprecedented challenges that it has thrown at our community, has been a long haul for everyone – but at last residents and visitors alike have been able to welcome back many of our colleagues in commerce and retail and enjoy the fact that the town is coming alive again.

It is so good to see shop doors open, with balloons and flowers outside many premises, and to enjoy a chat with owners and staff as the lockdown eases its grip on our lives.

We look forward to welcoming the rest of the commercial/retail sector back next month and trust that everyone will continue to support the local economy and make a determined effort to ensure that this year will be a tremendous summer of trading with a real buzz around the town.

From the queues outside town centre premises since “Re-opening Monday”, it is reassuring to see that our community is choosing to support Helensburgh’s post-lockdown recovery, and the Chamber wishes all businesses every success in achieving viability once again.

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It is good to hear that many of our voluntary groups are resuming their activities and this adds to the sense of “normality” that everyone craves.

Groups such as the Friends of Hermitage Park, Helensburgh Horticultural Society and the Helensburgh Tree Conservation Trust have worked hard to add to the attractiveness of the town and this is particularly welcome as we emerge from a winter that has seemed longer and harder than most.

For example, the cherry blossom on the town’s new and old trees is stunning just now and showcases a town that has a lot to offer – and we hope that many will enjoy that offering and the hardships of 2020 will soon fade away.

Finally, another well deserved thank you to all who have helped to bring us to this welcome Level 3 status, particularly the vaccination teams, and all our businesses who have kept us supplied throughout this crisis.