IN my role as crime reporter for The Evening Times, I am very passionate about helping the families of missing people.

Imagine losing a loved one and not knowing where they are? Many families feel at a loss and helpless.

This is why I kicked off 2017 by highlighting the important work of Missing People Scotland.

The group was started by Glasgow woman Angie Sivagnanasundaram and with several volunteers, she actively helps families find their loved ones who are missing.

Missing People Scotland started in 2011 after the story of missing woman Susan Marshall struck a chord with Angie, and since its inception the page now has more than 75,000 followers and a reach which extends around the world.

The group wants to become official like the UK charity Missing People, and with the support they offer families across Scotland, recognition for their hard work should be considered.

I know this because I have had first hand experience of speaking to the heartbroken families of long-term missing people.

The sister of missing Samuel Townsley told me she can never be at peace until the missing link of her family is found on the year anniversary since her brother vanished in Glasgow city centre on October 19, 2016.

Ann Margaret Allan said: “It is hard to have a night without a dream about him. It is never the ones you want. It is a never a good dream. It is always a nightmare.”

I spoke to Samuel’s dad weeks after who told me that he thought his son had been murdered.

William Townsley said: “My honest opinion is I think he has been murdered. Police can’t prove anything because there is no evidence. Their hands are tied as well.”

The family of Samuel share the same agony as others in similar situations including the daughter of missing Cardonald man David Findlay, who vanished nine years ago.

Linda has never given up on her quest to find her dad who left his Cardonald home at around 3pm on Monday, May 5, 2008 – and no one has seen or heard from him since.

She said: “I don’t think this has got any easier. Where is he? He has got to be somewhere. I just sit in worry all the time. I have my good days and bad days, but as the anniversary approaches I am always a wreck.”

Pauline Gibson is also still searching for her brother Paul Booth who vanished on October 25, 2016.

She said: "I don’t think he is alive. Last Christmas, I had an overwhelming feeling that he wasn’t here anymore."

Last year was also an important one for Celtic Football Club as the East End side marked the 50 anniversary of the Lisbon Lions lifting the European Cup after beating Inter Milan 2-1.

I provided a lot of the Evening Times coverage of the celebrations but the most memorable moment for me was covering the funeral of Tommy Gemmell who died at the age of 73.

There wasn't a dry eye at Parkhead as hundreds of fans gathered to pay their final respects to the man who scored the equaliser in Lisbon.

The achievements of the Lisbon Lions, however, was still a celebration and I was also at the SSE Hydro to watch the show-stopping show which was put on by the club to mark the anniversary.

With Scotland's A-list in full attendance and Rod Stewart on the stage, the night was one to remember.

Unfortunately I still have to write about the vile criminals who prey on vulnerable members of the public.

Springburn pensioner Ian McGregor was left black and blue after he was pulled to the ground and set upon by the two thugs who crept up behind him as he made his way home from a shopping trip in November.

Mr McGregor was attacked for a winter coat he had purchased in town prior to the assault.

Conmen also preyed on a vulnerable Govan pensioner and made off with over £1,000 of his cash.

Housebound James McDade, 94, who uses a zimmer frame, was tricked by bogus callers but kind-hearted school pupils at Govan High stepped in to raise back the funds which had been stolen. It is was this heart-warming response from the school pupils which made this story much easier to write.

The best part my job is spending time with Police Scotland and its specialist units. This year, I visited the mounted branch where I met all of the forces' horses.

The animals are so intelligent and well-looked after, and I couldn't believe just how much of an asset they are for the police.

I met them ahead of an Old Firm match so I could understand the tactics deployed by Police Scotland to keep large crowds safe and I was able to see first hand that the horses are key to most of the force's big operations.

The real highlight of my year was my historical crime series on the men who were hanged at Barlinnie.

I spent hours locked up in the Mitchell Library going through the archives to learn the stories of the 10 men who were hanged at Glasgow most infamous prison.

From serial killer Peter Manuel to the Gorbals beat cop who ran down his unmarried lover, I was completely gripped by the series as was many of the readers who gave me positive feedback.

It is the diversity of what I cover which makes me love this job and I hope to bring you even more exclusive tales in 2018.