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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
27th November
2008


I forgot to tell you about a couple of things last week.  Firstly there was what I did during Alcohol Awareness Week – see these pictures of me helping out with the Challenge 25 initiative in the Spar.

With all the work that Kenny MacAskill and Shona Robison are doing at Government level to address Scotland’s terrible relationship with alcohol, I thought that I could at least help out a wee bit.  With some concerted effort we can make improvements that will see a healthier Scotland and reduce the cost to our health service of alcohol-related illnesses.

There was also the Cornflower Ball in aid of the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association which raised in excess of £10,000 – that will help the Association continue delivering its essential Care and Information services to people in Scotland living with MND.

I’m looking forward to welcoming Euan MacDonald to Parliament for lunch and a wee tour he bought in the auction – I was a wee bit surprised that we got so much interest for that wee prize in the auction – I was quite chuffed.  I’m also looking forward to the next Cornflower Ball which is being planned for the 14th of November next year.

Now then, things from this week!

Remember last week I was off to the Motherwell College Awards?  It was fantastic – the last awards ceremony in that building, of course, as the college prepares to move to its new campus on the Ravenscraig site (good to see the Scottish Government’s support for that site paying dividends).  There was an awful lot of talent in that room last Thursday – bursting at the seams with people who are excelling in their studies and have built themselves a fantastic platform for their own futures.  We’re going to be seeing lots more of lots of the students who were there last week.

There was a wonderful speech from John Boyle of Motherwell FC – he was quite inspirational, telling the students that they already have all they need to be successful in life, and that their learning at college was building on their learning from their earliest days onwards.

Another awards ceremony on Saturday as well (must be the season for it) in the Fruitmarket in Glasgow.  Nordoff Robbins is a charity which provides music therapy and training for music therapists and they played host to the Tartan Clef Music awards.  Dougie MacLean received an award, as did Sharleen Spiteri, Beefcake (with Billy Boyd), and Ricky Warwick.  Edwyn Collins got himself a lifetime achievement award – and then revealed that he’s been using Nordoff Robbins music therapy to help him get through his recent troubles after suffering a stroke.  He’s walking now and he’s back strumming his guitar – good news for fans like me.

I was off to Tapestry earlier this week as well.  Not the Bayeaux, the Tapestry Partnership which supports educational excellence.  Again with some fascinating speakers who have a vision of a future Scotland developing and progressing.  They support the curriculum development that’s going on at Government level and they’ll continue to put their collective shoulder to the wheel to help Scottish education develop.  I’ll be working with them again.

Parliament this week was excellent.  The Free School Meals legislation was passing its final stage this week.  Amazingly, the opposition parties continued to oppose the implementation of the SNP election pledge to give free school meals to pupils in primaries 1, 2, and 3.  In the end, though, the Statutory Instrument passed with only 28 opposition Members voting against it.  I’m not sure how they justify their actions to themselves – they appear to think that scoring petty party political points is more important than doing what’s right.

It was also the launch of the Scottish Baccalaureates.  The SNP is driving this forward, enabling a high quality qualification that will be recognised internationally and giving Scottish pupils an extra competitive edge.  Incredibly, some of the opposition are against this too.  Ach well, onwards, onwards.

We’ve also seen Linda Fabiani launch the St Andrew’s Day events – Historic Scotland opening the doors to allow free visits to many of their properties and all leading up to the Year of Homecoming next year.  It’s going to be fun.  I got up on my feet at oral questions to grill her (lightly, of course) about that free admission and celebrating Scottish heritage and culture.  She, of course, answered well – I think she’s quite good at that job.

I hope I’ll be seeing everyone at the demonstration outside Dungavel on Sunday at 1pm.  I hope we can keep making the case that we should treat everyone humanely, no matter how they come to our country.  In the meantime, can I wish everyone a very happy St Andrew’s Day!


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