IT is hard to look forward without a glance backwards. It is said that we live in ‘interesting’ times and 2016 has been a momentous year with international, national and local events that will have an effect on us here in Farnham.

The tragic actions in the war zones, though far away, will continue to have a knock-on effect on our daily lives and the surprises of the American Presidential election and the Brexit vote will touch us all.

Locally there has been much progress with the Waverley Local Plan and the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan going forward to ‘examination’. The final decisions reached on these will affect our town for years to come.

On the international stage, Farnham was well represented at the Olympics and Paralympics and we can rightly be proud of our athletes’ involvement and the medals that they brought home. Europe-wise we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our twinning with Andernach in Germany with a ceremonial re-signing of the Friendship Agreement.

Events here in Farnham seem to have been bigger and better than before with record attendances at the Food Festival and Christmas functions. In contrast to many parts of the country, crowds continue to increase at our Remembrance Sunday parades and the event with local schools on November 11 itself was very poignant.

Despite the turmoil around us Farnham somehow seems to remain an oasis of tranquillity, progressing smoothly forward and looking round our town, seeing the Christmas lights and the bustle of shoppers, is very comforting and heart-warming.

It is a privilege to live here and during the 200-odd engagements I have attended so far I have yet again been struck by the unstinting efforts of the army of volunteers who literally keep Farnham going – where would we be without them? Their selfless energy assisting those who, for no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times or are in some other way disadvantaged is an inspiration to us all.

I took forward to the New Year with optimism and the firm belief that better communications are a key to a more peaceful existence. Let’s chat to our neighbours and say ‘Hello’ to people we pass in the street. If Santa did not bring all that you hoped for, let me wish that the events of 2017 will make up for that.

Finally I pray that our country and the world will copy the example set by Farnham’s citizens in attempting to make the world a better place for all to live in.

John Ward