THOMAS HAWORTH catches up with a few familiar faces and asks them to share their messages this festive season

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland

The true meaning of Christmas for me is the message of Christ’s birth, which is memorably expressed by TS Eliot in his poem, The Journey of the Magi.

I will be carrying on working right up until the big day, making visits to organisations and meeting residents.

As ever, my diary is looking very busy!

As Christmas fast approaches, let us all spare a thought for those who are ill or alone and remember those who are not so fortunate to be surrounded by their loved ones. A simple act like a phone call or visit can make all of the difference.

I am pleased that we have Christmas Care here in Swindon, a local charity, which offers food and shelter to homeless people over Christmas.

This year, the charity will operate from Buckhurst Park Community Centre in Walcot and will accommodate more than 60 visitors a day, who will be given food and hot drinks, as well as a change of clothing and new footwear.

Volunteers at Christ Church are also holding a Christmas Day lunch for local people spending Christmas Day alone and who would like to spend Christmas Day with others.

Both of these events have been inundated with offers from volunteers and donors, which is a true testimony to the strength of community spirit that exists here in Swindon.”

Green Party activist Talis Kimberley-Fairbourn

I really enjoy traditional Christmas music – carols, wassails, choirs on the radio and the Wroughton Silver Band playing out in the village. Singing together is a powerful and wonderful thing, whether it’s a spiritual or a secular thing for you.

Every year I make Christmas biscuits to a Swedish recipe I was given by a friend years ago – gingerbread stars, cats, and trees are a family tradition.

Let’s reduce the stress we put each other under to buy things for buying’s sake, and the waste of packaging and food. As child I would rip the wrapping paper off in bits, but now I fold it up and re-use it.

I take heart from the outpouring of compassion and kindness we see at this time, towards homeless people and those for whom Christmas is lonely or unaffordable.

Can we keep that going, please? Nobody should be cold or hungry or living on the street, at Christmas or during the rest of the year.

We live in scary times - everyone’s struggling.

It’s hard to catch your breath and think about the future.

Dear neighbours, if you can: sing more, compost your veggie peelings, fold up the wrapping paper, and be kind.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson

Christmas brings with it many indulgences. Presents, turkey, mince pies, decorations and crucially, the very relaxing bank holidays!

But the best thing about Christmas costs nothing; that is spending time with loved ones – friends, family, distant relatives – away from all of the distractions and chaos of everyday life.

It is a time that we pause to take stock of what is really important to us and perhaps acknowledge certain things that we often take for granted throughout the rest of the year.

It’s also a time to consider others who do not share the same happiness at this time of year by supporting causes that help those less fortunate. That’s why we put in an even bigger effort than usual to help local charities.

The week before Christmas we have organised for a handover of brand new books for Swindon Young Carers, and will also be sending off all of the new gifts from our Christmas appeal that residents have so kindly donated presents to. They will be going to elderly people who find themselves alone at Christmas.

So enjoy yourselves this Christmas and be grateful for the people that are in your life.

But also think about those who aren’t and do what you can to support others.

Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson

Many of us will enjoy some time off this Christmas but this is not the case for everyone.

On behalf of the residents of Wiltshire and Swindon, I want to thank those who are working over the holiday period, whether that’s the police, fire or health or indeed any other services. Thank you.

This year has been a challenging one for all police forces alike, but none more than those who have responded to the devastating terror attacks that have sought to damage the way in which we live our lives.

As a force, I’m proud of the way in which Wiltshire continues to turn financial challenges into opportunities, such as integrating more with the public in shared spaces.

Yet it would be negligent of me to not recognise that we are working under more pressure than ever, with fewer officers on the beat due to budget constraints.

That’s why in 2018 I hope that Wiltshire gets a fairer slice of the cake in regards to government funding to ensure that we can keep our county as safe as possible without taking shortcuts.

I’m in no doubt that our relationships with our partners will continue to strengthen next year to deliver a cross-agency approach to policing in our county.

For most the festive season is a time for fun and celebration, however for those without friends, family or a roof above their heads, and those who are in abusive or violent relationships it can be a difficult time.

During this holiday period please take the time to look out for others. You never know what a difference you can make.

Wiltshire is one of the safest counties in the country, let’s work together and keep it that way this Christmas and New Year.

Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard

The late Alan Rickman, playing the Sherriff of Nottingham, said “and cancel Christmas,” while Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, actually did so.

Fortunately, this festival remains a great religious and cultural celebration and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

However. as Leader of the Council, my thoughts at Christmas are for our staff who will not be able to join the festivities because they will be working to provide essential services for the residents of Swindon.

Some of this work will be appreciated by many, such as the crews who grit and maintain our roads.

Much will be largely invisible, as it will be the care services we provide to the vulnerable elderly, to children we are rescuing from risk and protecting from harm, to the homeless.

For these Council Officers, there may be very little Christmas cheer in the terrible circumstances they encounter.

That is why I would like to dedicate these few words to those who will be making sure that some of the less fortunate members of our community have someone to care for them.