I have one overriding wish for 2023 - that it is much better than 2022 turned out to be for so many people.

I certainly don’t think the last year will be remembered as a favourite by most of us. Just as the Covid pandemic began to ease its grip, along came the cost of living crisis and the awful events in Ukraine. Soaring prices mean lots of people are worrying about how to stay warm and fed this winter. For many, Christmas is a time of financial concern rather than celebration. Yes, these are tough times.

Against that very downbeat background, we welcome a new year. Let’s hope it does bring the beginning of better times. A glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, if you like. So, what are my hopes for 2023?

On a personal note, I wish for health and happiness for loved ones. We're looking forward to a new arrival in the family early in the new year, with our daughter, Harriet, expecting her second child. Granddaughter Ava is very excited about the imminent arrival, but the little one will definitely have to battle with the pet hamster for her big sister’s affections. 

Our sons, Tom and Ben, will continue to work hard and enjoy their lives in Bristol and London respectively. We recently had a massive family and friends get-together to celebrate Tom’s 30th birthday. How on earth did that happen? On the subject of big birthdays, March will bring an opportunity for much Mickey-taking from the offspring when I qualify for the State Pension. (I don’t think I’ll tell the kids it used to be called the old age pension...).

In May, I’m confident I will be joining thousands of other Ipswich Town supporters relishing our favourite team winning promotion back to the Championship. I’m convinced it will happen. We have the right owners, the right management team, and the right players. After two decades of pretty grim prospects, these are much happier times for Tractor Boys and Girls. That would, of course, give Ipswich and the rest of Suffolk a huge pick-me-up, a real feelgood factor.

2023 will also see another event which will be a major positive influence for our county town. I’m very proud to be chair of the Wolsey 550 project, which will be officially launched in March. I’ve written about this before in my column, so I won’t go into all the details again. Suffice to say, it has the potential to be a real game changer in terms of helping with social mobility, aspiration among our young people, and helping folk be proud of Ipswich, a truly historic and important town. Suffolk needs a strong, proud Ipswich. Negativity helps nobody.

Thinking more widely, I’m sure we all hope for an end to the dreadful events in Ukraine. It’s now almost a whole year since the Russian invasion, with so many innocent lives lost or ruined. As I write, it’s difficult to see how the violence will end, but let’s hope upon hope that peace can be restored to that troubled part of the world as quickly as possible.

I started by writing about the financial worries facing so many people with the soaring cost of basics such as food and household fuel. To me, and I suspect many people, it brings back unwanted memories of life in the 1970s, when inflation was rampant. I know we will have to live with this situation for a while, but hopefully during this year the pressure will begin to ease.

As ever, we can help each other. If people are struggling, then it’s so important they ask for help. Because help is available in so many ways. Equally, if we know someone who we suspect is in difficulty, then let’s reach out to them and offer to help if we are able. Together, helping each other, we can get through the tough times. I wish you a healthy, happy 2023. Things will get better!