Kezia Dugdale has spoken of the upheaval in her private life and the “personal sacrifices” she makes as Scottish Labour leader.
Speaking at party conference in Perth, she said 2017 had seen the end of her long term relationship with her fiancé Louise Riddell and the death of her best friend Gordon Aikman from Motor Neurone Disease.
Mr Aikman succumbed to the condition after a courageous fight that saw him campaign relentlessly to raise awareness of the disease.
“My attitude in recent weeks has been just to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Ms Dugdale said.
“I broke up with my partner who I had been together with for nine years and that was undoubtedly very difficult and challenging - especially to do it in the public eye.
“It is a bad thing people have to face at any point in their lives let alone to do it on the front page or indeed in the middle pages of the newspapers.
“Then I lost my best friend to a disease that I knew was killing him. I just didn’t expect it to take him quite so soon. To say 2017 hasn’t been the greatest year so far is a bit of an understatement. I thought 2016 was bad!
“I have got a very strong sense of who I am what my strengths are, what I can contribute and what I want to do with this job. You do make personal sacrifices. But it is public service and I do it for a reason. I love this party and love its potential, love what its achieved in the past and I believe it can achieve great things again.”