Family, friends and politicians attend Kennedy funeral in the Highlands

Hundreds of mourners arrived at the tiny Highlands village of Caol today to mourn the life of a man remembered for his humility and strong ties to his humble roots.

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

Politicians Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, John Swinney, Michael Moore and Menzies Campbell were among the congregation packed into the tiny St John’s RC Church in the village just a mile from Fort William to remember the life of Charles Kennedy.

Kennedy’s son Donald and ex-wife Sarah Gurling were among the mourners of the former Liberal Democrat leader who died on 1 June following a long battle with alcohol.

Donald, ten, remained dignified throughout the service, leaning against his mother’s shoulder as he wiped tears from his eyes.

The service, led by Father Roddy McAuley, was very much a family occasion, with the front three rows of the church occupied by Kennedy’s closest relatives and friends and political figures remaining closer to the back.

Many of those who turned out were locals who remembered Kennedy as a small boy, growing up on a croft alongside his brother Ian and sister Isobel.

Around 70 people stood outside, where the service was piped into the pretty garden surrounding the church, with snow toppedmountains behind.

Friend Brian McBride gave the eulogy at the hour-long service, which also included singers from the local Locyside Primary School and music from a string ensemble.

McBride, who first met Kennedy when he took part in debating competitions as a teenager, remembered him as a “brilliant” mind, but with “no ego at all”.

“I doubt I will ever see his like again - one of the few public people who walked this earth and didn’t really have a single enemy,” he said. “The man I knew in private was the same man I saw doing a speech on TV.”

He spoke of Kennedy’s closeness to his mother Mary, with whom he shared a love for music, cinema and current affairs.

“I think only Winston Churchill and John Smith have been so universally mourned.

“Charles, we will always remember you,” he said.

Kennedy’s coffin, surrounded by yellow and purple flowers, processed through Caol before an internment service at Clunes, Achnacarry.

Father McAuley remembered Kennedy as a much-loved man with “great humility” and described him as a “backbencher” at the church due to his preference to sit at the back during services.

“Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up,” he said.