Last year we really did see the best of Britain.
Despite the difficult economic conditions the nation came together to put on the best Olympic and Paralympic Games in living memory and were rejoiced in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
These events, and their successes, were testament to the strength, resolve and enthusiasm of the British people and here in Rugby we aptly demonstrated that spirit.
As crowds lined the streets to welcome the Olympic torch to the town Rugby was put on the map once more as re-enactment took place on The Close at Rugby School of the moment when William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball and ran. It was a truly special morning.
The Jubilee celebrations were quite incredible. I was taken aback by the size of the crowds in the town centre that Saturday afternoon and will always remember the faces of the many children in attendance.
We really pushed the boat out at home and we were similarly well represented in the celebrations in the capital by the Rugby Sea Cadets who were part of the wonderful Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant flotilla.
Last year was certainly one of triumph but we must also remember the challenges our country has faced.
The economy is healing but there is still work to be done.
There was encouraging economic news for the country; the deficit was down by a quarter, interest rates remained at a record low, income tax was frozen for 25m people, the state pension and child tax credit were increased and fuel duty was cut.
These were bold, decisive moves which provided real support for hard working families across the country.
We need to build on these foundations throughout 2013.
Unemployment fell steadily in 2012 and there are now 500,000 more people in work now than there were at this time last year.
Here in Rugby there are excellent employment opportunities going into 2013 with more jobs being created in the private sector and with work progressing on our housing development sites.
This will also produce many much needed homes for hard working Rugby families.
In 2013 the Government will continue to tackle the key challenges we face: re-balancing the economy, controlling immigration, keeping crime down, ensuring work always pays, freezing council tax, helping people on the housing ladder, cutting the deficit even further, investing in our health service and redefining our position in Europe.
Much has been achieved over the last year to get our country back on track but there is still much to do.
I would also like to remember and thank those people who have not had the opportunity to be with their loved ones over the festive period.
The continued efforts out brave and valiant armed forces and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis are never forgotten.
Similarly our thoughts should go out to our police, fire and ambulance services and our doctors and nurses as we remember the excellent work they do throughout the year.
I hope that 2013 is happy, safe and prosperous for you all.