New Year is a time when we welcome in 2016 with family and friends and look forward to the future.
It’s also a time for reflection as we assess the previous 12 months and resolve to try harder and do better in the year ahead.
The start of 2015 was a record breaker for me when my Lord Provost’s Burns Supper was officially recognised by the Guinness World Records as the biggest ever while raising money for good causes at home and abroad.
It was also a great year for sport as I, like you, proudly cheered as the city hosted two rounds of Britain’s stunning Davis Cup campaign in March and September. A success that deservedly earned Andy Murray the title of Sports Personality of the Year for a second consecutive year, following a tremendous tournament that ended Britain’s 79 year Davis Cup wilderness.
And of course, we also hosted the wonderful World Gymnastics Championships at the SSE Hydro a showcase of stamina and talent that will remain with all of us who had the privilege of watching the action up close and personal. I also had the honour of presenting medals.
Glasgow is a city famed for its arts and we were thrilled to host the Turner Prize for the first time. I also had the enjoyable duty of opening Billy Connolly’s art exhibition at the People’s Palace.
And when I visited New York to promote the city as part of the Tartan Week celebrations it was lovely to catch up with the ‘Big Yin’ there.
Looking back on 2015 it’s astonishing to think there were 15 Royals visits to Glasgow including a visit by Her Majesty the Queen to open the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the Royal Hospital for
Children and the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Building. I had the privilege, in my capacity as Lord Lieutenant, to accompany her on these engagements.
Everyone who knows me knows I am an extremely proud to be a Glaswegian. I’ve always maintained I have the best job in the world promoting this city and its people. It’s an easy sell because we all know ‘People make Glasgow’.
So it was wonderful to be presented with the Shackleton Medal by the polar explorer’s grand-daughter Alexandra, on behalf of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, which Shackleton belonged to. It was awarded for extraordinary citizenship and leadership during the 2014
Commonwealth Games. An honour I was happy to accept on behalf of the people of Glasgow.
I have to confess a personal highlight of the year for me was getting up close and personal with the fabulous George Clooney whom I have invited to my 2016 Burns Supper. If he can make it – it would undoubtedly make it my most memorable yet.
On the subject of looking forward, in 2016 Glasgow will be hosting a range of international events including the 2016 World Irish Dancing Championships; 2016 MOBO Awards, 2016 Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and the World Pipe Band Championships.
Naturally, I’m extremely proud that Glasgow continues to hold its position as a top visitor destination. The city is confirmed as Scotland’s fastest growing tourism destination – thanks to our reputation for delivering world-class visitor experiences.
And in November this year, travel bible National Geographic Traveller placed Glasgow among its top 20 best destinations in the world for 2016 in recognition of its unrivalled music and arts scenes.
It never surprises me that Glasgow continually proves itself an exciting and vibrant world-class city. A friendly, welcoming, generous city – for it’s our people who make this city truly great. I am extremely proud that ours is a city that welcomes refugees including people who have recently arrived here from camps after fleeing the war in Syria.
For some people Christmas will have been a difficult time. People who are lonely or troubled by health or money worries. I hope that 2016 is easier for them.
This is also the time of year when we remember loved ones no longer with us. I am acutely aware that incidents like the Clutha and bin lorry tragedies mean these special times, for affected family and friends, will be very painful. My prayers and thoughts are with them.
I wish everyone a prosperous, healthy and happy new year.