Tourism, and how it can help Shropshire’s economic recovery from the pandemic, is a central theme of my year. I held a Zoom call with Paul Goulbourne, Anne Wignall, Nicky Stokes and Joan Mowlin of Ellesmere to discuss how one of the county’s most attractive towns, which already holds great appeal to visitors because of its meres, can play a part in that. The challenge is to get more of those people who visit the meres to take a look at other areas of the town. Some positive ideas emerged.

Tourism again and I make no apology for it. It is so important to Shropshire’s economy and employment that I want to do all I can to help the industry’s recovery out of lockdown and beyond. To this end, I held a Zoom meeting with specialists Mark Hooper and Beth Heath, both of Visit Shropshire, Lee Lucks, of Visit Oswestry and Paul Hutchinson of Virtual Shropshire. They are all main players in the county’s tourism industry and are doing great work to raise Shropshire’s profile locally and nationally.

The past 13 months has caused such pain and disruption for so many, it is hardly surprising it has put a strain on mental health and wellbeing. Samaritans, the charity which provides round-the-clock support for people in desperate distress, has never been more important.

I spoke to head of Shrewsbury-based Samaritans, who have 89 volunteers covering the whole county, as well as over the border in Welshpool and Herefordshire. There is a separate organisation in Telford.

They are listeners, encouraging people to open up. They try to help them to help themselves.

Most recent Shropshire figures show there were 131 suicides in two years, over two thirds of which were men.

There is a variety of reasons. The main causes for men are the break-up of relationships, debt and gambling; for women it is mainly relationship problems, including abuse.

Samaritans are totally self-funded with no grant aid or public money. I think it important, in these challenging times, to highlight their wonderful role as a friendly voice at times of personal crisis.