Mark Drakeford has paid tribute to those who must work through Christmas to keep Wales safe and moving in his first Christmas speak since the end of Covid restrictions.
In his Christmas speech, the First Minister also remembers all those around the world who are suffering as a result of war and famine.
In his message, Mr Drakeford said:”Nadolig Llawen i bawb. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope this will be a time of rest and of peace.
“For the first time since the pandemic started, we will have a chance to spend this time of year with friends and families – as we have done for years before.
“As we do, think about all those who can’t be with their families, who are affected by war and famine around the world.
“Christmas is a time for generosity, for giving and community spirit.
“Let’s also think about all those people who will be working this Christmas to keep us safe over the festive period.
“From community volunteers to NHS staff and our emergency services. Thank you for everything you do.
“Diolch yn fawr i chi gyd. I wish you all a happy, restful and peaceful Christmas.
“Merry Christmas. Nadolig Llawen i chi gyd.”
Meanwhile, Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, used his Christmas message to pay tribute to the Queen and reflect on the war in Ukraine.
He also mentions the challenges people in the UK currently face amid the cost of living crisis, but urges people to consider those less fortunate than themselves, and to ‘hold our loved ones closer’ this year to compensate for time lost over the past two years.
He said: “I’ve always taken time around the Christmas period to reflect on the year we have had as a family, a community and as a country.
“The word ‘historic’, some might say, has been overused in recent years – but the last year truly has been one of historic proportions.
“Like many people, I am not old enough to remember the coronation of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her passing has undoubtedly caused incredible sadness, but in time we will think back on Her reign and Her remarkable life with fond memories.
“Her enormous contribution to our country had not only a stabilising effect over decades of change, but also instilled a sense of duty and public service in all of us. Her legacy is the continuation of that selflessness in all of us.
“We are faced with extraordinary domestic circumstances, influenced by international events including in Ukraine and the aftermath of the global pandemic.
“The situation in Ukraine, while being felt here in our rising energy and supermarket prices, is still a devastating tragedy for the Ukrainian people.
“We must not forget that since this barbaric escalation began in February, the people of Ukraine have been standing tall in opposing the unacceptable actions of Putin.”
“I am proud that as a country we are doing what we must to support President Zelensky and his people in defending their sovereign country and the many millions of displaced civilians who did not ask for this conflict.
“There will undoubtedly be painful moments ahead, but by facing up to our challenges, we will overcome them, together.
“Our country and this continent have overcome periods of considerable adversity before and we will do so again.
“It is appropriate, at this time of year in particular, to think of and embody the true spirit of Christmas by considering those less fortunate than ourselves and to spend some time with loved ones.
“We must compensate for lost time by holding our loved ones extra close this Christmas. Particularly giving thought to those older friends and relatives who have been deprived of that crucial warmth of togetherness in recent festive periods gone by.
“This Christmas I am thinking of those displaced Ukrainian citizens who won’t be able to sit around their family table.
“I think of those people who have lost loved ones to the pandemic who have an empty seat at the table this year.
“And I think of those who will be spending Christmas alone. Perhaps somebody experiencing that will live on your street, so knock the door, share a pot of tea, and take a little bit of time to make a big difference to someone’s Christmas.
“And so my message for 2023 is one of hope and togetherness, because brighter days do lie ahead for this great country and its people. Merry Christmas.”
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