Opinion: Privilege of meeting people from communities across Falkirk district whose stories you never forget

The huge variety of people that you meet – even in the last two years when there hasn’t been a lot of meeting allowed – is what I’ve always said makes my job so special.

Thursday, 14th April 2022, 12:30 pm
Natasha Matiusha who is the first Ukrainian to arrive in the Falkirk area speaking about her experience as her country was invaded

I feel fortunate that throughout all the years I’ve been doing this I’ve had contact with so many in our communities.

Meeting them at their high points, and sadly their lows, is both a privilege and it can also be a challenge.

When they are happy and bursting to tell you their good news it is easy to get caught up in their enthusiasm as their joy seems almost tangible. However, when their story is more troubled and tinged with grief, it can be much harder to hold it all together.

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While my memory these days is such that don't ask me what I had for tea last night because I’m unlikely to remember but I can remember so many of those I’ve met, particularly those in their darkest days.

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Ukraine conflict: 'Hell was happening there' - one young woman's story about her...

The woman whose husband was missing for months before being found murdered, the family who lost their only daughter in a freak accident in their home, the schoolboy who lost his parents in tragic circumstances and then his brother in a traffic incident, I remember them all and so many more.

This week I met a young woman who has been in our community less than two weeks. Natasha Matiusha had escaped from Ukraine and is now living in Bonnybridge with her future in-laws.

It’s been impossible to ignore all the coverage of the war in her country since the Russian forces began their invasion on February 24.

But sitting listening to her harrowing and sometimes tearful account of what people, who until seven weeks ago were living normal, peaceful lives, are now experiencing was truly horrifying.

Almost too difficult to comprehend at times that one man could have the power to destroy and blight so many lives.

Thankfully, Natasha is now safe with Helen and Donald MacKinven, as she awaits the return of her partner Lewis from his current post in China.

Although she has sanctuary for now, like most of us would in similar circumstances, she hopes one day to be able to return to her homeland when peace has been restored and the rebuilding work for that proud nation can begin.