We're proud of our Valleys. This is a unique part of Wales and is truly special. The Valleys, and its people, have made their mark on the world. Our region once fuelled the world with coal and the creative, scientific and entrepreneurial talents of our people have had a massive impact globally.

Despite all our achievements, 2012 has been a challenging time for our region and it's been a bit of a rollercoaster year for our independent businesses - let's not pretend it isn't tough out there. What can you do? Support the good ones, simple as that.

For us, despite the economic difficulties, it has been an exciting time. Valleys Life is flourishing and, as we go to print, our little publishing company now publishes three other titles: Vale Life, City Life and our new baby, West Life. All are in the style of Valleys Life and all printed on good quality paper right here in South Wales. We're committed to using local businesses whenever possible and we're proud that every single issue of our magazines has been designed and printed in Blackwood and we're so very proud of that. We do our best to source everything we need from local suppliers even when we've had to pay a little more. It's our commitment to investing locally that we'd like to think sets us apart.

Every word in our magazines appears online and our websites are visited by many thousands of people from over one hundred and twenty countries. We also produce digital editions of our publications and they enjoy their own readership. As we go to print the digital editions alone are enjoying close to half a million page views so we're doing our bit to promote our region way beyond South Wales.

It doesn't take much to make a difference to the local economy. Step away from the big supermarket once in a while. Buy your meat from a local butcher, your veg from a greengrocer, visit your local market. That thing you were going to buy online, see if you can source it locally. We've always looked after our own in the valleys. We can give our local economy a lift by making very small changes in our shopping habits. Be the change, you'll feel better for it.

Jennifer Hobbs-Roberts

Ok, who skips to the back of the magazine to see who's in the Social Life section? You too? It's fine, honestly - it doesn't make you a bad person!



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