We live in a cynical age with many challenges, but I’m glad the South Wales Argus is proud to talk up our area.

Over the years, from the Argus Business Awards to the Schools and Education Awards or the Health and Care Awards, I’ve been inspired by the stories of dedication and expertise we have here in Gwent.

In our communities, we have people who go above and beyond the call of duty, pursuing excellence in what they do, caring for others and creating jobs for local people.

We may have our challenges and other areas may blow their own trumpet more, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

We have the coast and the mountains. We have cities, towns, villages and green spaces. We have the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, superb parks like Pontypool Park and a World Heritage site in Blaenavon.

We were the birthplace of the National Health Service, something that has given our nation so much. Looking to the future, we have leading, innovative companies in sectors from modern manufacturing to medical and diagnostic products, compound semiconductors and other technology.

We have firms recognised in their fields across the world – companies like ProSteel Engineering working on projects like the Olympic Park, Meritor working on low carbon technologies or Flamgard helping build the arch that made the Chernobyl disaster site safer for the future.

Nor should we ignore tourism or the arts, cultural and events sectors, from visitor attractions like the Celtic Manor and International Convention Centre to chart-topping Newport band Skindred, who performed to thousands of fans at last weekend’s Beautiful Days Festival.

Our focus is rightly on what more can be done to meet the challenges we face, economic and social. But it’s right that we recognise what’s good too.

That’s why I was pleased to read the Oxford study which named Torfaen as a top UK business hotspot. We can always do more to encourage and assist businesses, but it’s good to see that we’re bucking the trend, with a net increase of 285 businesses in the past year. That makes us one of only nine areas in the UK with more businesses opening than closing, and one of only three to achieve that two years in a row.

Now I hope that our new Torfaen Business Direct Service can help those companies grow, acting as a single point of contact for those busy entrepreneurs and providing the support they need to succeed.

Another area in which we excel is on the rugby pitch. With that in mind, good luck to Pontypool RFC as they embark on their long overdue and well-deserved first season back in the Welsh Premiership.

What better way to start the new season than a Gwent derby, with a visit to play Newport RFC on Sunday, September 3? I’ll not claim to be a neutral on that one, but all the best to Gwent teams this season, and to Wales at the World Cup!