Tributes have been paid to former MP and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, who passed away at his home yesterday (Tuesday)
The Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev David Robertson said: “I am saddened to hear of the death of Charles Kennedy.
“A fellow Highlander, he was a student in Glasgow when I was in Edinburgh, both of us were involved with student politics, both of us were founder members of the SDP (Social Democratic Party).
“I still remember the night we got the call saying it was on and we were leaving Labour; both of us stood for election - he got elected and went on to become the youngest MP aged 23 and party leader for the Lib-Dems. I didn’t and went on to become the youngest Free Church minister, aged 24.
“He went on to become my MP in Ross-shire.
“Charles was a gifted, witty speaker and principled leader but with his own demons.
“Ultimately I cannot but feel his life and death is a tragedy.”
Rev Donnie G MacDonald, minister of Portree Free Church on the Isle of Skye, added: “It was with an enormous sense of sadness that we heard of the passing of Charles Kennedy.
“Whatever our politics Mr Kennedy was recognised as an exceptionally able politician and a committed servant to the Highlands of Scotland.
“Throughout his former constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber he was appreciated as an MP who worked hard for his constituents.
“Our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family at such a difficult time.”
Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Angus Morrison said: “It was with a deep sense of shock and sadness that I, along with many others in the Church of Scotland, learned of the sudden death of Charles Kennedy this morning.
“He will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most talented politicians of his generation. But he was much more than that. With his impish smile, distinct Highland voice and quick sense of humour, he was able to communicate effectively with people far beyond the circle of politics. His down-to-earth humanity ensured that he was held in affection by people of all political persuasions, and none.
“Raised a Roman Catholic in the strongly ecumenical community of Fort William, where his family is well known and loved, there is no doubt that this early experience continued to shape the political values which Charles expressed so well throughout his career. He will be remembered as one of the strongest voices opposing the UK’s entry to the Iraq War.
“Despite moving away from Fort William many years ago, as their local MP Charles continued to play a central role in the community, as well as more widely in the Highlands which he loved.
“As a Church we wish to express our sincere sympathy to his former wife Sarah, to their son Donald, and to all in the wider family circle in this great loss. We assure them of our thoughts and prayers for God’s presence and peace at this difficult time.”
The news of the death of Charles Kenned was met with shock and sadness by Dave Thompson MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and Ian Blackford the newly elected MP for Mr Kennedy’s former constituency.
Mr Thompson said, “Charles Kennedy was a wonderful man who I appreciated knowing and debating with. My, and my wife Veronica’s, prayers go out for him and to his family at this sad time.
“Charles is a great loss to the Highlands. Though we disagreed on some points he always offered wise words and I believe he displayed great integrity and great courage.”
Mr Blackford said: “Charles Kennedy had so much more to give to Scotland and it’s people. My prayers and those of my family are being offered for him and his family at this the worst of times.
“Charles was a great democrat and was magnanimous in defeat as well as victory, I would like to say I have lost a friend.”
Western Isles politicians also paid tribute to Mr Kennedy.