At this time of year we gather to remember and show gratitude to the many brave service men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. I had the privilege of attending the service at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh as part of my civic duties as First Minister.
This year’s Remembrance Sunday service held particular significance, as it was the last before next year’s centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Scotland, in common with so many other nations, suffered an appalling loss of life in the Great War, and its effects on Scottish life were profound and long-lasting, making this year’s Remembrance Sunday especially poignant as we look ahead to next year’s commemorations.
I was grateful to seventeen-year-old Army Cadet Colour Sgt Sean Collister, a pupil at Craigroyston High School Edinburgh, who acted with great composure as wreath bearer on my behalf.
Many Scots, of Sean’s age and even younger in some cases, would have served in the trenches nearly 100 years ago and as we reflect on their sacrifice at this remembrance time we can be thankful that our young people have very different opportunities and freedoms in this day.
Earlier this year, as part of the Scottish Government’s commemorations of the centenary of World War I, I announced funding for war memorials during a visit to Fyvie in my constituency. The Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund is a £1 million scheme to support the repair and conservation of war memorials in Scotland.
Our war memorials are a lasting tribute to fallen service men and women and it is hugely important that they are maintained. We owe it to the names inscribed on these memorials, as well as the families they’ve left behind, to keep monuments in a proud condition, reflecting the level of respect they deserve.
I want to encourage more communities in my constituency and all over Scotland to apply to the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund to help keep these monuments a central and permanent reminder in our communities of both fallen and serving men and women now and for generations to come.
Visit Strengthens Ties With China
In a whistle-stop tour, leading a Scottish trade delegation to East Asia, I have been working hard to deliver enhanced Sino-Scottish links. A number of deals were struck during this brief visit and I am delighted by the success of the trip. Undoubtedly one of our nation’s greatest exports is our expertise and with seven deals concluded or announced during the trip this further emphasised Scotland’s role in close partnership with the world’s greatest emerging economic power. These deals range from oil and gas collaborations to renewables and construction.
In recent times our global footballing prowess has, perhaps, faced “challenges” but our game remains a lucrative product with investment appeal. I was delighted to be involved in the announcement that the SPFL will now be broadcast across China, in a deal that is worth £20 million to the league.
China has identified innovation as absolutely crucial to its economic transformation and access to foreign skills and expertise has been highlighted in its latest five year plan as critical to the country’s future success.
The announcements made whilst in China – worth £40 million overall to Scotland over the next decade – demonstrate the high demand in China for Scottish expertise and quality products in a host of industry sectors, with significant partnerships showing the real benefits to both countries of our expansion into the Chinese market.
I have written to Police Scotland in relation to the recent spate of attempted cash machine thefts in the constituency, particularly in Ellon, Inverurie, Oldmeldrum, and
New Deer. I understand that the investigations are on-going and are being dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Should you have any information please get in touch with the police. I would encourage all constituents to be vigilant in their transactions at cash machines at this time.