Tributes at memorial service for Charles Kennedy

A PUBLIC memorial service was held last night to remember former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Charles Kennedy. Picture: Contributed

The service at St Clement’s Church in Dingwall took place yesterday evening, with tributes due to be led by Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie.

Mr Kennedy died suddenly at his home on June 1 at the age of 55. He had suffered a major haemorrhage as a result of a long battle with alcoholism.

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After 32 years in the House of Commons, the father-of-one had lost his seat in the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency in May’s general election.

Mr Rennie was expected to share some of the many tributes that poured in from across the political spectrum.

“It is only when you read and hear the range and depth of remarks made about Charles in the days after his sad death that you fully understand what he meant to this world,” Mr Rennie was due to tell those gathered. “From locals to international leaders, so many have expressed their grief and their affection for Charles Kennedy.

“It wasn’t just the personal grief, although that was bad enough, but the political grief. The loss of one of the greats. And the loss of what was yet to come.”

The MSP was also expected to reflect on some of his personal memories of their time spent together, including an occasion during Mr Kennedy’s first public appearance after he stood down as leader of the party in 2006.

“He was mobbed in the streets of Dunfermline, campaigning for me in my by-election.

“As we passed a shop doorway, a lady of some years called out, ‘We love you Charles’. Quick as flash, he replied, ‘Thanks, but keep it quiet. The party’s in enough bother as it is’.”

He added: “Charles had a unique combination of political talent and public affection. With that cheeky smile, Highland voice and a few simple words, Charles Kennedy captured the political hearts of the nation.”