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Helen Lyne's Presidential Christmas Message

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The festive season is well and truly upon us and is often a time for reflection. As 2015 draws to a close, I cannot help but reminisce over the year’s events.

With such busy lives, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock. Often, and particularly in the legal profession, we are forced to consider the negatives in life; the risks, the cutbacks and the challenges posed by our ever changing and ever growing society and work lives. Often overlooked are the things that we are so lucky to have and the things that we take for granted.

This year has seen many more cutbacks to legal aid and court closure proposals. Yet, despite this I continue to hear about the resilience of the lay people, the court staff and the professionals who are affected by these issues but refuse to be beaten by them and it is that which we ought to be proud of.

Last week was particularly reflective  for me outside the scope of my usual day to day activities. As a firm, we took part in the annual Christmas Shoe Box Appeal for The Moses Project in Stockton in conjunction with the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation. I took on the all important role of collection and delivery of the boxes.

The Moses Project is a charity founded by Brian Jones who is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. It provides guidance, mentoring and support to hundreds of vulnerable adult males with past and current addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. The men the project helps have largely lived in chaotic circumstances and are suffering the consequences of long-term abuse and self-abuse. Brian is truly selfless. He has given his life to the men he helps, but to him, he has simply expanded his family. He has an innate desire to help whoever he can and by whatever means. He told me he simply wanted to ‘change lives’. Going into the centre, I was unsure what to expect. However, it is a place filled with overwhelming love and positivity which is something I found to be extremely humbling. If you don’t believe me, I would urge you to go down to the centre and pay Brian and his team a visit!

And so this is my Christmas message - in a year which has had many ups and downs for all I’m sure, we must focus on the ups and learn what we can from the downs. We must also reach out to those we can and who find it less easier than others to do this and guide them along the way in whatever way we can.

On that note, may I take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2016.

I  am President of the Tees Valley Law Society. For further updates, please follow me on Twitter.