I’m delighted to be here at Alness at the Milnafua Community Hall where I’ve been invited to take part in the local children’s Christmas party.

Christmas is all about spending time with those we love, and it’s about thinking of friends and family both at home and abroad. It’s also, of course, a time to reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves.

So this Christmas, I would encourage everyone to take the time to check on a friend or neighbour who might be on their own. It’s really important to spend some time over the next few weeks giving comfort, companionship and support to those who really need it.

We should also remember those working in our emergency services, those keeping our transport network running and the many, many more who give up their time with their loved ones at Christmas in the service of others.

Scotland has such a proud reputation as a caring country and I want to thank everyone over the past year who has extended a warm welcome to those seeking refuge and comfort here.

So, wherever you might be celebrating Christmas – in Scotland or overseas, at work or at home, the children of Alness and I wish you all the very best for a Merry Christmas.