MAY 2004. Vic Bar, Glasgow School of Art: Standing, warm beer in hand, my life changed forever. Her name was Alex, she was from Paris and she was studying at the University of Strathclyde on an Erasmus programme. Coming to the end of her studies in Glasgow, luckily enough for me, she liked my red T-shirt that night.

July 2004. Porte Maillot, Paris: Fast forward a couple of months and that same girl who had liked my T-shirt is standing waiting for me as I get off a bus in the centre of Paris. I have come to Paris with £40 in my pocket and a return ticket in 10 days. Fortunately, I have a European passport and I am allowed to work in France. The very next day I am employed in an Irish bar near Place de Clichy. It is in this bar that I am able to earn a wage. The 10 days come and go, and before I know it I am "living" in Paris. With little to no French, it is in the very same bar that I meet my future wife.

January 2020, Nanterre Prefecture: Fifteen years later, I am still in Paris, happily married to my beautiful French wife, Eve, who has given birth to our three wonderful daughters. I am fluent in French (incroyable!), our children bilingual and I have just been afforded the privilege of French citizenship. I am a business owner and make a living bringing young French students to Scotland to combine sport and education. A business activity that adds more than £1 million to the Scottish economy annually.

My point is obvious. Without the European Union and the freedom for a young Scot to live and work in France I would not have been able to live the life I have today. The opportunity afforded to me through the EU is something for which I will be eternally grateful. France has given me an opportunity – an opportunity to better myself and it has been an opportunity which has made me the man I am today.

Forever a proud Scot, I am today also a very proud and humble Frenchman and as I look towards the future of a Europe without the UK, I do so with a ping of sadness and regret.

Whatever happens now, here’s hoping for a better future, where love, respect and compassion are values held in the highest regard across Europe and beyond.

Chris Ewing, Paris.

WITH others in my family, I have worked both home and abroad to make Scotland, the UK and the EEC/EU work well together. I suppose we now know how successful those efforts were. After meeting Robert Schuman's challenge of making war on the continent "materially impossible", we can only speculate what other fights might we have taken on in partnership – climate change, cyber war, the war on world hunger and disease?

So it is worth reflecting what country the UK's inhabitants are getting back. The UK has been a member since 1973, but conscious of the EEC since its own birth, and actively pursuing membership for well over 50 years. In that period, this country has changed beyond recognition – not least in the constitutional arrangements underpinning devolution in the home nations.

So, as we leave, what chance that Leave voters, Remain voters, and those who did not vote at all, will look around them to what the UK has become – leaving victory, defeat, defiance or dissent behind? EU withdrawal might have been less divisive with some awareness of how different parts of the UK could have their own red lines and priorities recognised. On withdrawal, that awareness will become essential.

If that can be done, we will better understand how laden or empty the promises that have been made. In the meantime, we can only hope we avoid the danger Sylvia Plath recorded in her journals, that “in this move toward new horizons and far directions...I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness”.

Okay. What's next?

John Edward, Edinburgh EH3.

MOST of the rest of the world is now convinced that the average Brit is not too bright. The real impact of Brexit will not be felt for over a year and will almost certainly result in the withdrawal of foreign car plants and the collapse of our native car industry. Food will certainly rise in price, along with all imports. Our farming and fishing industries will suffer, but since they all voted Leave, they only have themselves to blame

The main problem for the rest of us is high unemployment, combined with low paid and insecure jobs. The Government consists of mainly multi-millionaires who have prudently transferred their main assets offshore. They plan on making a killing out of a low-wage, low-security workforce and will keep benefits low so that many will live at the poverty level.

The future is less bright than the Brexiters would have you believe and this, combined with the ongoing slow but sure dismantling of our NHS, will ensure a poor and fairly short-lived workforce who have no rights and little say in events, but who have taken back control and now have their own sovereignty.

James Evans, Dumbarton.

“WHO do you think you are kidding, Mr Johnson,

If you think old England’s won?”

Kenneth Fraser, St Andrews.

LET me get this right, John Edgar (Letters, January 31) clearly wants an independent Scotland to join the European Union. So, having achieved a break from Westminster to achieve some sort of "freedom" which separatists so desire and I don't understand, he wants to sign up to being governed and administered by Brussels. Can he please explain what is "independent" about being under the control of the European Union?

Of course, the financial and economic criteria for joining the EU means that an independent Scotland will have very little chance of becoming part of the union – Nicola Sturgeon's regime with financial mismanagement has guaranteed that.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

IT may be true that every cloud has a silver lining, as Nigel Farage declares that following Brexit he will now be spending more time in America (“Farage presented with’Mr Brexit’ portrait as former MEP says he won’t miss Euro ‘dump’," The Herald, January 31).

Always look on the bright side.

R Russell Smith, Kilbirnie.

Read more: New dawn for UK but country’s divisions remain