The past year has been eventful and busy mostly dominated by the weather which has hugely affected British agriculture and caused stress and devastation for many farmers across the country.
There seems to be more weather than we have been used to and due to the cold late spring which delayed grass and crop growth, the heavy snow fall which smothered ewes and new born lambs, and the late harvest just when the rain returned, it has certainly been challenging both for arable and livestock farming.
The weather has once again hit the headlines over Christmas and has caused disruption to those trying to leave the UK from Gatwick airport, families heading home for the festive holiday and misery for countless families having to cope without electricity and flooded homes. What should have been a time of peace, harmony and celebration has turned out to be somewhat different.
The emergency services have been working 24 hour shifts, as have engineers trying their best to restore power supplies to thousands of homes.
However the difficulties we have had and for some are still facing across the UK, although difficult and unpleasant, fade into insignificance compared to the many grim hardships faced by millions across the world. There have been problems caused by natural phenomena such as earth quakes, flooding and drought.
We watch with increasing unease al-Qaeda’s terrorist network ready to once again seize control in Afghanistan, the ruthless regime in North Korea, the increasing tension between Japan and China, the political and military crises in Egypt and the unease within Pakistan.
Tragically by far the greatest suffering across the world is caused by man-made conflict and aggression which appears to be spreading across the East Asia, the Middle East, the African continent and former Russian satellite countries.
By far the greatest problems are driven by religion, intolerance and fanaticism which are increasingly driving men into unspeakable acts of barbarous cruelty. Innocent people including thousands of women and children are being slaughtered for their belief or ethnicity.
Millions are crossing borders desperately trying to find refuge, safety and basic needs including food, clean water and shelter. What they find is hunger, squalor, cold and little hope as they crouch miserably on exposed and often freezing hillsides and deserts.
These people have no emergency services coming to their aid with warm blankets, hot soup and the hope their lives will be back on track tomorrow. They face years, if not a lifetime of clinging on to a mere existence, surviving hour by hour, day by day.
Mothers watch their children dying from starvation, disease and brutality. However hard the relief agencies struggle to help these wretched people it can never be enough. There are millions displaced from places such as Syria and South Sudan who have no-where to go and no future. They need care and support not just now but for decades to come. They face real poverty and genuine hardship.
We in the UK are blessed. Despite the knowledge that there are underground movements driven by those who wish to provoke fear, intolerance and uncertainty, we are fortunate to live in one of the greatest Nations on earth.
The majority of the British public are civilised, hardworking decent people who treasure and appreciate the quality of life in Great Britain that we are privileged to enjoy.
We live in a democratic country where every child has the opportunity to benefit from an education system which is freely available. Sadly too many fail to grasp this opportunity which offers the potential to achieve whatever they aspire to accomplish.
There are children across the world who crave such an opportunity and would be aghast if they could see the contempt schooling and education is viewed by far too many children who fail to grasp how precious a resource they are turning their backs on.
Let us hope that 2014 is a good year with less weather and less conflict across the world.
Carola Godman Irvine