Our national day is a wonderful opportunity to promote Scotland as an inclusive and outward-looking nation, and to reaffirm to ourselves the things that define our values as a nation.
I thank my friend and colleague, Tom Arthur, for securing the debate and giving us all the opportunity to welcome the annual St Andrew's day celebrations.
As colleagues have mentioned, this year’s St Andrew’s day theme is
, which implores us to take a moment of time to perform a small act of kindness—perhaps to look in on an old friend, spend a bit of time with a neighbour, or support the local volunteering that goes on in all our constituencies.
I am proud to say that t he cup of kindness overflows in abundance in my Ayrshire constituency of Cunninghame South. In Stevenston, for example, the Hendry family at Townhead cafe will once again provide Christmas dinner absolutely free of charge for any vulnerable, elderly or lonely people in the three towns and Kilwinning. Not a week goes by in which our local newspapers do not carry stories of fundraising efforts for various worthy local charities.
If members will indulge me, I will mention some of the local folk who have been doing good things. Pauline Tremble is an Irvine-based artist who provided a series of paintings to raise funds for Whiteleys Retreat in Ayr. Ellie Kennedy from Irvine raised an amazing £700 for the Beatson Cancer Charity and the Little Princess Trust, which is a charity that provides wigs to children who are going through cancer treatment.
The Kilwinning ambulance depot raised £1,900 for the Brain Tumour Charity by putting on an amazing fun day that many of the community took part in, while Bourtreehill scouts managed to raise £300 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
The new Kindness Rocks Project campaign is being led by the Rev Neil Urquhart and Father Willie Boyd of Irvine, who have come together to further promote the message of kindness. They are working in association with the North Ayrshire kindness innovation network and the Shoes Brothers, as they are known—if members do a search on YouTube, they will be able to see their song and dance activities—to record a song and video to promote kindness at home, in the workplace and across communities in the constituency in the run-up to Christmas.
As has been mentioned, St Andrew’s fair Saturday is to be launched this year as part of the global celebration of fair Saturday to provide a celebration of arts and culture and
“an opportunity for people ... across all faiths, beliefs, cultures and ethnic origins, and Scots internationally, to mark the contribution of Scotland at home and across the globe.”
The theme of kindness is again prevalent. Contributors have been asked to support a social cause and to promote the wider celebration of St Andrew’s day through their work. This Saturday, I will be lucky enough to be joining the very hard-working staff of Tesco in Irvine to help with their annual food-bank collection.
St Andrew has an international profile, being the patron saint not just of Scotland, but of Greece, Russia, Romania and Ukraine, so it is appropriate that we reaffirm Scotland’s commitment as an open, welcoming and inclusive nation. Amidst the chaotic maelstrom of Brexit and what seems to be a terrible surge in racism and fascism, we should, as Scots, continue to celebrate and aspire to embody our shared global values of respecting human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
I wish everyone a very happy St Andrew’s day.