Following the recent uptick in Covid cases caused by the greater transmissibility of the Delta variant, it’s great to see infection rates once again on the decline.

Whilst it’s important to reiterate that Covid hasn’t gone away, the difference between now and the turn of the year is the effectiveness of our vaccination programme.

89 per cent of Test Valley residents have now received their first jab and almost three-quarters are fully vaccinated. My huge thanks to health colleagues for making that happen. They’ve literally been lifesavers. In the three-month period from January 1 to March 31, there were 85 deaths from Covid in Test Valley within 28-days of a positive test. From April 1 to the time of writing there has only been 3.

Ultimately, Covid is one of many things that could kill us but thanks to vaccinations, it is now much lower down that list. Although for numerous reasons our lives are going to continue to be very different from what they were 18 months ago, I hope this will give people the confidence to get back to somewhere near normality.

Talking of which, it was great to chair the first in-person Andover Vision stakeholder meeting since early 2020 in St Mary’s Church recently. My thanks to Revd Chris Bradish for hosting us in one of Andover’s most inspirational buildings. It was a great opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to the ongoing consultations on improving Vigo Recreation Ground and public art at the new Riverside Park. The Borough Council also gave a flavour of the upcoming consultations on improvements to public realm and street furniture as part of the town centre regeneration project.

I also enjoyed being back at Andover parkun recently. The atmosphere was electric as 320 of us all lined up for the 5km run, walk or jog around Charlton Lakes. parkrun is more than just a run in a park. It’s about improving wellbeing, making connections and people supporting each other to get active, whatever their ability. I’ve missed it so much – and despite masses of leaflet delivery during the recent election campaign - my fitness has suffered as a result. Time to turn that around.