IT IS always nice to look back on another busy year. As you can imagine I am invited to numerous events in the course of a year, I would like to share with you some of my favourites from this year and give you a flavour of what life is like for a constituency AM.

Before I do so can I say that if I have not mentioned a particular event here it is because of the confines of space.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of joining many others at the ceremony to mark the completion of phase one of the Newbridge Memo restoration. The Memo is a building we all have special memories of and after many years of hard work by the dedicated committee, it is great to see the restoration under way and I look forward to seeing the rest of the work completed.

I have mentioned my family connection to the mining industry in this column before, so one of the high points of the year for me was being invited to the unveiling of the national mining memorial in Senghenydd. The memorial pays tribute to miners who died in the disaster there as well as all those who lost their lives across the Welsh coalfield. Black gold as it was known shaped our communities but also incurred terrible cost.

It is always nice to visit local schools or to welcome school children to the National Assembly. In October I visited Ynysddu Primary to see the work being done to develop nurture groups. These groups help children with a history of behavioural problems to get the most out of their schooling. We all know how important education is and I congratulate all involved with this project.

I visited Pontllanfraith Sainsbury’s where they were collecting toys as part of the active kids programme for their charity partner Trinity Fields School and resource centre. The event has really summed up for me how special the festive season is for children.

I read in these pages about the disappearance of Argus employee Ben Caplan and would like to say I hope he is returned to his family safe and well and that our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

As usual in lieu of Christmas cards I have made a donation to Ty Hafan.

Finally I would like to wish all a happy and prosperous new year.