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Christmas message from The Evening Star

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:48 09 March 2010

AS CHRISTMASES go, the festive season of 2008 is unlikely to be remembered with any great fondness by most people.

However despite all the gloom surrounding the economy in general - and the anxiety this will cause many - it is worth remembering that for most people this remains a very happy time of the year.

AS CHRISTMASES go, the festive season of 2008 is unlikely to be remembered with any great fondness by most people.

However despite all the gloom surrounding the economy in general - and the anxiety this will cause many - it is worth remembering that for most people this remains a very happy time of the year.

There may be concerns at the back of many people's minds - worries about their jobs, their household debts, or other non-financial issues.

But essentially this is a time when families get together, when old friends meet up, and troubles are - if not forgotten - put to the back of the mind.

And while there are justifiable concerns for many people, it is worth remembering that the majority of people will still have jobs at the end of next year. The vast majority of homeowners will be able to make their mortgage payments. The vast majority of motorists will still be able to fill their cars with fuel.

It would be wrong to have a complacent Christmas - but there is no point in allowing gloom to engulf us either.

For everyone living in east Suffolk, 2008 got off to a difficult start with the trial of Steve Wright for the murder of five young women just before Christmas in 2006.

The trial inevitably dragged up memories which had been suppressed for the previous 15 months - but at the final result was widely seen as correct and ended with a conviction and sentence which should see Wright stay behind bars until the day he dies.

He is attempting to appeal, but for many the end of the trial marked the end of a sad chapter for the town.

Nothing, however, will bring back the five women who died during his murderous spree - or dull the heartache caused to their families.

This has been a year that will not be remembered with any great fondness, either, by Suffolk's sports fans - although those supporting the national team had plenty to cheer about during the Olympics.

Ipswich Town under-achieved following the arrival of Marcus Evans' massive investment. No one doubts Jim Magilton's devotion to the club or his will to succeed - but at the end of the year many fans are questioning whether he has the ability to build a promotion-winning team.

The club will be hoping for more clear signs of progress in 2009.

The credit crunch which preceded the recession which was confirmed in the last few days has caused a great deal of worry for many people - and could herald the demise of many familiar names on the High Street.

Banking used to be seen as a safe job - almost a licence to create money - but that was an illusion which disappeared as crises engulfed banking giants HBOS, Bradford and Bingley, and Royal Bank of Scotland in the wake of the 2007 near collapse of Northern Rock.

All the names have survived the year - unlike some retailers which have bitten the dust.

It seems inconceivable that our high streets will no longer have a Woolworths standing proudly among the big shops - but on Saturday stores across the region will be shutting their doors for the last time at the cost of hundreds of jobs in Suffolk and tens of thousands across the country.

And while MFI may have been the butt of jokes at various times, it did provide cheap furniture to generations of household . . . and again its collapse will leave many families without a breadwinner.

There are also dire warnings that retailers across the country could face difficulties as bills become due in early 2009. The hope has to be that those which do succumb are replaced by fresh retailers which can keep the customers satisfied.

While 2008 has not been a great year for most people, this is not the time for gloom and misery.

Our Christmas appeal to train a guide dog provoked a massive response from the public - so much so that we are now going to be able to train up a second dog.

This success shows that the festive season remains a time of hope - and that is why the Evening Star is delighted to wish all its readers a Happy New Year.


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