Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.
You can phone or email me at any time but I am unable to hold face-to-face surgeries while the Covid-19 regulations are in place.
But I am very much still here to help you. Just leave a message on the main number below and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
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Sunflower growing anybody?
It’s so heartening to see the signs of spring. We’ve all had a pretty difficult year and seeing a bit of colour around makes us all feel a bit better.
So it’s nice to see: https://www.seedsofhope.scot/sunflower
The organisers tell us: “Each set is packed with activities for kids and adults to enjoy. Sow from April and have a sunflower-growing competition this summer.
“This pack contains the following items:
1. One packet of sunflower seeds (15-20 seeds) with full sowing instructions.
2. A5 colour postcard with learning facts about sunflowers
3. A5 activity postcard - colour-in sunflower and bird bingo!
4. Manila brown envelope
5. Costs £4, free UK shipping included
6. 10% goes into our 'good causes' seed giveaway fund
“Sunflowers are easy to grow and famously, get very tall - the world record currently stands at just over 30 feet!
“The seeds provide food for birds, and the flowers are a popular source of nectar for bees.
“The variety we currently provide is Giant Yellow Single - a lovely, traditional type of sunflower suited to children's growing competitions.
“Sow your sunflower seeds April-May. You can find out lots more about our sunflower seeds and how to grow them at https://www.seedsofhope.scot/sunflower
A5 colour postcard
“This postcard features a very cute and bright sunflower by graphic designer Marceline Smith, of Asking for Trouble. “On the reverse we've added lots of interesting facts about sunflowers, so children and adults can learn more about them. There's also plenty of space to include a personal message.
A5 activity postcard
“This double-sided activity postcard is packed with stuff to keep children occupied.
“On the front there's a black and white sunflower for them to colour in themselves - and on the back there's a 'bird bingo' game.
“See how many of the birds you can spot on your daily walk, or in your garden. When you find one, choose a colour you like and fill in the box!
“The more sets you buy, the bigger the discount
“We've set up this listing to help you save money on larger orders. Just use the 'how many sets would you like?' dropdown above.
“Remember, we spend 10% of everything we make on running seed giveaways to good causes in Scotland. Thank you for helping us to help them.”
Shine a bit of light!
Drama Kirk's Passion Play in Hamilton
The Passion Play returns to Hamilton this Easter, adapted to account for Covid-19 regulations.
The group has creatively turned the steps on Castle Street into the steps of the great temple in Jerusalem. Meanwhile additional protocols like a body double for Mary Magdalene and duplicate props have been introduced to keep the cast as safe as possible.
A recent surge in good weather favoured Drama Kirk, who were able to film in the sun and get great shots of the town.
The play is set to broadcast on Easter Weekend, this time with a new perspective through the eyes of Gospel writer Luke, who puts the story of Jesus together years after his death.
A Passion play tells the story of the last week of Jesus’ life through drama, taking people on a journey to the cross and ultimately finding renewal through resurrection.
The cast is traditionally drawn from the community, with a professional actor in the role of Jesus.
Director of the short film, Liz Blackman, explains: “We needed a script for this year that was quite different to anything we had performed in the past – something which could easily be adapted to social distancing, with a small number of people in each scene.
“I was delighted to find the script of ‘With Arms Wide Open’ by American actor Peggy Barnell. The script is around 20 years old but is really fresh in its approach.
“We see Luke finding out about how Jesus changed people – and we hear his views on what many of Jesus’ teachings meant. For us, this feels like a much more direct way of sharing the Gospel story.”
Parts of the story of Jesus’ life are told in a series of flashbacks, which allowed the group to film safely in small groups to show a range of Biblical scenes.
The group also acknowledged a number of other challenges in filming under current restrictions, including filming the upper room where the iconic Last Supper took place.
Scottish Government guidelines state that filming can only go ahead outdoors, which presented the group with fresh challenges. Liz added: “Filming outside gave us the opportunity to use the wonderful performance spaces Hamilton has to offer. With very little imagination, the steps at Castle Street can easily be seen as the steps and walls of the great temple in Jerusalem – and we can see Jesus and his disciples teaching there.
“Thankfully the weather was kind to us, too, so the film will show Hamilton at its best.”
Reverend Ross Blackman, minister at Hamilton Old Parish Church, helped to build the set, putting his skills as a former joiner to great use to bring the play to life.
He said: “Building an outdoor set of an indoor scene was a challenge. Fortunately it didn’t rain or that would have given the game away!”
Further information can be found at www.facebook.com/DramaKirk or on twitter @PlayLanarkshire
The play will be broadcast on YouTube on Easter Saturday, April 3, at 2pm at: https://www.youtube.com/hamiltonold
Stabbing at Hamilton Central
A man was stabbed on the platform at Hamilton Central station last Saturday night, 13 March.
Emergency services rushed to the scene at around 9.30pm where the victim and his partner got off a train at the same time as three men and a woman.
A spokesperson for the British Transport Police said: “A short time later an altercation took place between the victim and the group on the station’s platform during which the victim was stabbed.
The victim suffered serious injuries and was taken to a local hospital by paramedics for treatment where he remains.
Officers are keen to hear from anyone who was at Hamilton Central railway station between 9.15pm and 9.30pm on Saturday night, 13 March.
Any witnesses or anyone with information can contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 522 of 13/03/21.
Care home residents have received both Covid-19 vaccine doses
NHS Lanarkshire is the first health board in Scotland to have vaccinated all eligible care home residents against the coronavirus.
The health board has now vaccinated more than 3000 residents with both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Trudi Marshall, Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire nurse director, who is managing the care home vaccination programme across the whole of Lanarkshire, said: “Care home residents are amongst our most vulnerable residents and this is a very worrying time for many of them.
“I know it will be greatly reassuring to residents, their loved ones and staff that they have now received both doses of the vaccine.
From the very outset of this pandemic health and social care staff have worked closely with care home staff to keep residents as safe as possible and this is another significant milestone in this journey.
“The care home vaccination programme has been carried out as quickly as possible. Each step of the programme has further highlighted just how dedicated and flexible our staff and care staff are in protecting residents.”
Ms Marshall emphasised the importance of continuing to adhere to guidance around physical distancing, hand washing and face coverings.
“Now that a number of homes are opening with care, I’d urge everyone not to drop their guard. Indeed, it’s even more important that people wear face coverings, clean their hands regularly and keep a two metre distance especially when visiting care homes.
“This remains the most effective way of preventing Covid-19 transmission across the whole of Lanarkshire,” added Ms Marshall.
SSPCA closing in on puppy farmers
Like most people, I am profoundly shocked by people who farm puppies, keep them in filthy conditions where they contract the deadly parvovirus and pick up bacterial infections.
Then the puppies are cruelly taken from their mothers before being weaned and are sold off for around £1,000 each.
Frequently, these abused animals will die within a couple of days. One purchaser who received a very sick animal managed to contact the seller in Glasgow. The man laughed in her face and told her he’d got his money and there was nothing she could do.
The puppies have been farmed mainly in Ireland and are then brought to Scotland for sale. That Brexit rules mean puppies cannot be imported to Scotland seems not to matter a jot.
One SSPCA inspector explains: “We have the most blatant patterns of behaviour, which involve connected people coming over from Northern Ireland with dogs in the back of cars and in bags, which are already advertised on Gumtree and other places.
“The dogs have been taken to rental homes in places like Glasgow, Paisley and Renfrew, where there are no proper facilities to look after them.
“They are using multiple mobile phones and fake identities and using adverts for cut-price dogs to draw in the quick sale.
“They prefer not to have people come to their home, as that can lead to then getting arrested.
“But they don’t stay in any address for very long, just enough time to move on litters of pups.”
More and more people have decided to take on a dog during lockdown. Little do they know how not only are the puppies abused, but the purchasers too.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are being overwhelmed with reports of sick and dying pups because the public continues to fuel the low-welfare puppy trade.
“These dealers are master manipulators and will use any means necessary to sell you that pup. They are using the pandemic as an excuse to drop the pup to you.
“They are also using rented accommodation to sell pups under the pretence they live there. Once the transactions are over, they up and leave with little chance of being traced.
“We need the public to help us tackle this abhorrent industry. As long as public demand exists, then pups will still become sick and die because these bad breeders put financial gain over animal welfare.”
The SSPCA advises that “Anyone who doubts the credentials of a puppy seller should trust their instincts and pull out of the sale.
“Suspicious activity should also be reported to the police or Scottish SPCA.”
The Scottish SPCA helpline number is 03000 999 999.