Its fair to say 2023 has been a slightly more hectic year than I was expecting!

From exhilaration, to trepidation, to sleep deprivation; the range of emotions I have felt in these last few months has been like nothing else.

Throughout though, one that has remained constant is the sheer gratitude I feel for the goodwill, generosity and support people have shown me over a campaign that I’m sure tested all of our patience at times!

Whilst all our recycling bins may be enjoying getting a breather since the campaign, after arriving in Parliament my feet have barely touched the ground.

Once I’d gone through one of the most surreal workplace inductions I’ve ever experienced (where else do you arrive at work to a guided tour by a doorman in full suit and tails?), it’s been straight to work.

And there is plenty to do.

In my maiden speech I highlighted some of the challenges families are facing across Mid Beds. These stories are what politics should be all about.

A place, its people, and their priorities. And as our MP, I want to make sure these are always at the heart of my work.

The Comet: Alistair Strathern MPAlistair Strathern MP (Image: Alistair Strathern MP)

That’s why I’ve held weekly drop-in surgeries and been out meeting you at village halls, coffee shops and local events to discuss the range of issues our community needs championing.

I’ve also been meeting with a growing number of community leaders, including doctors, business, teachers and farmers, to understand how I can advocate for each part of our brilliant community.

I’ve been bringing these conversations into Parliament, putting the issues affecting our communities are in front of Ministers.

For too long, we have been without a strong voice in Parliament, but I’m trying to change that.

Whether it’s securing a Westminster Debate to raise the inadequate state of service accommodation (shamefully, two thirds in Bedfordshire are the lowest grade); arguing for changes to the unfair business rates regime that hits our high streets hard, or lobbying the Government to finally get Wixams station on track, I’ve tried to use my first 7 weeks in parliament to champion the issues that really matter to our communities.

Away from Parliament, I now how important it is to have a strong local presence. That’s why earlier this month I was delighted to pick up the keys to our new constituency office.

I know its been a while since we had one of those in Mid Beds (the less said about that the better…), so I’m incredibly grateful for peoples offers of support (and furniture!) to help make it the best possible space for our team.

I can’t wait to welcome lots of you there in the new year.

But in the meantime 2023 draws to a close, I want wish everyone in a happy and healthy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

2023 has been a year like no other for me, but the spirit I’ve seen across our towns and villages over the last few months fills me with hope and energy for 2024!