It’s nice to have something positive to aim for, especially after the past year.

So I was enthusiastic from the moment Newport Council Leader Jane Mudd called me to ask me to back Newport’s bid to be the 2025 City of Culture.

There are many reasons for my wholehearted support.

Firstly, this can be a bid for the whole of Gwent. For too long we’ve been divided and ruled. A regional approach for me is about coming together and supporting each other, instead of city against towns or villages, coast against valleys, or rural against urban.

In the modern world we rise or fall together and if we can join forces more consistently, we all win. Alone we are small, together we can be mighty.

Isn’t that what our history shows?

Coal mined in our valleys and exported through our ports. World-class steel produced across our region, from Ebbw Vale to Panteg to Llanwern. A health service born in Tredegar and shared with the nation.

Secondly, some may sneer about culture as if it is an elitist concept that we have no right to claim.

Not a bit of it. We have so much to offer, from our industrial heritage to our inspiring natural environment, including the wonderful Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, which has so much potential. We have a history of musical and artistic innovation too, as well as fantastic people and strong communities.

In Torfaen alone we have the World Heritage town of Blaenavon, a hotbed of the industrial revolution and somewhere where the story of working class culture shines through vividly.

As well as the best rugby club in the world, Pontypool has a museum and park to be proud of, a cultural story to tell.

The new town of Cwmbran has a more modern but still rich history, from its social origins to places like Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, the Congress Theatre, Greenmeadow Farm and more.

Anyone saying culture is not for the likes of us had better prepare to run away quickly!

This cultural richness can be a part of our future ambitions, as a region and beyond.

The past 18 months have shown us the value of sport, culture and the creative industries. They are an essential part of our wellbeing and something we’ve missed deeply.

To support that notion, I’ve volunteered to help at Green Man Festival this year.

Green Man may be just outside our region, but it’s a renowned cultural event that we should be proud of. Gwent, and Wales, can do these things as well as anyone, and we should be proud of that.

Lastly, how great would it be to have a city of culture in Wales, in a nation with a culture formed of two languages - a culture that is proud and diverse but also inclusive and welcoming.

Good luck Newport – you’ll have this part of Gwent full-square behind your bid.