As you may know from the Advertiser’s coverage of the local elections over the last couple of weeks, this is the last column I will write for the Advertiser as a Helensburgh Central councillor.

While it is absolutely my decision to stand down, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds, this is also a slightly bittersweet time for me as I look back on the last 10 years in election – and even before that.

I first stood for election in 2007, the year that the larger multi-member wards were introduced and the Helensburgh Central was created.

This change meant that in terms of campaigning, I ‘inherited’ bits of Helensburgh Central from three Liberal Democrat councillors for the town who were standing down at that time: Moyra Stewart, John Tacchi and Eric Thomson.

I was also working closely during that campaign with Al Reay and the other Councillor Morton, my mother Ellen, who were standing again.

Now, in 2022, some of those councillors are no longer with us. But I can still remember their passion for Helensburgh, their determination, their commitment to community improvements and their prioritisation of local issues.

I wasn’t successful in that 2007 election campaign. But when I was eventually elected in 2012, I was in a stronger position because of the advice and support I had received from all of those councillors, and I at least had some idea of what was about to come my way...

I am not the person I was when I was elected in 2012, and some of that of course is just about life – but much of that is also due to my experiences as a councillor over the last decade.

I have learned so much from people I have worked with both on Argyll and Bute Council and on external organisations – whether in terms of factual information or simply examples of how to really achieve something.

From all the reading I have had to do, whether about local issues or as this area’s representative on national groups, I have probably now forgotten more than I ever learned at school!

And of course I have also been inspired by and learned from my constituents.

Whether working with community groups or individual constituents, I have had my eyes opened in all sorts of ways. Helensburgh is a town lucky to be blessed with the driven and the determined, with the kind and the caring. Not every town is so fortunate and we should never forget to appreciate that.

I hope that on Thursday, May 5 you make sure to vote, and that those who are elected are able to build on those community strengths to see the town continue to improve.