This Christmas Mayor Gowan pays tribute to those who will be working in essential roles supporting others over the festive period. He asks that we remember the true meaning of Christmas and to think of those who cannot be together this year.

Mayor Gowan said: “Christmas is a very special time of the year. My focus will be on family, friends and spending quality time with those we love and reflecting on the significance of Jesus’ birth.

“As we exchange gifts, decorate our homes, and share special meals and traditions with family and friends, we must always think of those who may be alone. If your neighbour has no family nearby, please take time with them. Remember, a kind word, a phone call, a visit or an invitation to lunch can change a person’s day. Reach out where you can.

“I have been privileged to meet many of our older citizens in local care homes. Without our healthcare and support staff the old and vulnerable would be lonely this Christmas. I would ask that you keep these individuals, doctors and nurses in your thoughts and prayers as they provide the best of care to our residents.

“My house, like many others, is brimming with excitement in the build-up to the ‘big day’ as the children follow the antics of the ‘elf on the shelf’ and look forward to Santa’s arrival. For some families it is a hard time of year but thanks to the generosity of others they can be supported by local foodbanks, charities, toy appeals. There are many wonderful causes that helps provide for those children who are in need this Christmas.

“We should try and hold on to this generous spirit all year round. Simple acts of kindness can have a lasting impact. Befriending and volunteering are a great way to give something back. This is work that is close to my heart and my focus during my mayoral term.

“I hope you are proud of our city this Christmas and have had the chance enjoy some of our spectacular Christmas events or maybe even a Santa visit at Castle Gardens. Our local businesses are grateful for your support.

“If out and about this Christmas be active and visit our wonderful local parks, Lagan Valley LeisurePlex or Dundonald International Ice Bowl.

"It has always been said that Christmas is a time for giving. The people of Lisburn and Castlereagh are some of the most generous I have met. I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to all those who have supported my mayoral charity, Cancer Fund for Children. I have been overwhelmed by the donations and the enthusiastic support of countless volunteers. You are a wonderful example of the spirit of Christmas.

“On behalf of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, I wish everyone a restful, peaceful and happy Christmas this year.”