Charles Kennedy being laid to rest


Published: Friday 12th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy will take place near his Highland home today.

His family and friends, politicians and members of the local community are expected to gather in their hundreds to pay their last respects at a mass at St John the Evangelist church in Caol, Fort William.

The father of one 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.

The service will be held at noon and will be followed by a private burial at Clunes, Achnacarry.

Both of Mr Kennedy’s parents – who died in recent years, his father during the general election campaign – were laid to rest at the church.

The principal celebrant today will be Monsignor James MacNeil, administrator of the RC Diocese of Argyll and the Isles.

Parish priest Father Roddy McAuley, who has described Mr Kennedy as “a much-loved and respected parishioner”, will preach the homily.

He will tell the congregation: “Charles Kennedy was a humble man. When Charles’s parents died and Charles said a few words in the church, he wouldn’t come up here to the lectern but insisted on speaking outside the sanctuary, from the floor.

“In this church, Charles was one of the ‘backbenchers’. He didn’t always sit in the same pew but he always sat at the back of the church.”

The priest will say: “There have been beautiful tributes paid to Charles, especially over the past week or so. Something we might add is the importance of Charles’s faith to him. He was a much loved and respected parishioner of St. John’s and he will be sorely missed.”

Children from St Columba’s, the primary school Mr Kennedy attended, will sing a psalm and his friend Brian McBride will read a eulogy.

It is expected that audio of the service will be piped outside if the church is overflowing.

Mr Kennedy’s family have described the funeral as “an opportunity for Charles’s family and friends, the local community he loved and served for so long, as well as his political friends, to bid him a fond farewell”.

Senior figures from the main political parties in Scotland are also expected to attend the funeral mass.

Following his death, tributes for the former party leader poured in from across the political spectrum, with former Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron among those expressing their sadness.

Mr Kennedy was also hailed the “most human of politicians”, remembered for his “courageous” opposition to the Iraq War, in a special session at the House of Commons.

In a statement released earlier, Mr Kennedy’s family said: “We would like once again to thank the various authorities who have helped us through this difficult time.

“We have been touched by the care and sensitivity shown to us by the police, ambulance personnel, the office of the procurator fiscal, the registrar and Mike McFall, funeral director.

“We would also like to once again voice our heartfelt thanks to the public, whose response has been so warm.”

Mr Kennedy lost his seat in the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency to the SNP’s Ian Blackford in last month’s general election.

An MP since 1983, his leadership of the Lib Dems from August 1999 to January 2006 saw the party enjoy its greatest electoral success in 2005, winning 62 seats.

Next week, a memorial service will be held at the University of Glasgow, where Mr Kennedy served as rector. A service will also be held in London at a later date.

Published: Friday 12th June 2015 by The News Editor

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