Lord Walney, formerly Barrow MP John Woodcock, reflects on a year that brought his first appearance in the Lords, lockdown... and a new baby.

Like so many, I am praying that 2021 will decisively different from 2020 and mark a return to normal life after the misery inflicted by the pandemic.

Yet Isabel and I will always remember 2020 for two amazing, positive reasons too.

Firstly, it was the year that our son Jacob was born.Our lockdown baby arrived in May when restrictions were at their strictest.

He has still not had nearly enough cuddles from his relatives – another thing that must change in 2021.

However, we did actually appreciate the peacefulness of being shut away together in those early weeks without the usual bustle of visitors and places to be.

Secondly, 2020 was the year that I was given the incredible honour of being elevated to the House of Lords. When I took my seat in September, I promised a lifetime of service to the community that welcomed this offcomer in when I became the town’s MP.

The rarefied atmosphere of the Lords is so different to the rough and tumble politics to which I had grown accustomed and is generally there to scrutinise the proposed laws coming from the House of Commons rather than making waves itself. But I am determined to use the immense privilege of being there to be an extra voice for the area alongside Simon Fell and our local councillors.

The focus has of course been on the pandemic. I have been asking questions about the way Covid rules are being applied in Furness and suggested that the Government should be considering demanding a one-off financial contribution from the likes of Amazon to fund communities getting back on their feet. So many businesses are being devastated but a few global giants have thrived. It is my firm view that those with the broadest shoulders need to bear the heaviest load as we look to return to prosperity.

I have also been working with Simon on how best to support Lakes BioScience in Ulverston as they look to manufacture antibodies to help fight Covid on part of the GSK site. It will take a long time to protect people fully from the virus, with hundreds of thousands of people unable to take the vaccine for varying reasons. The world class experts at Lakes BioScience can produce that capacity on home soil, doing a service to the nation and creating many highly skilled jobs in the area.

2021 could be a big year for them and many Ulverston workers who are still affected by the bitter disappointment of GSK abandoning their biopharmaceutical investment on the site. I will do whatever I can to help them.