Orkney SNP has added to the tributes being paid to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she signals the end of her time in office.
The country’s first female First Minister, and the longest serving in the history of devolution, told the country on Wednesday morning that she was stepping down as First Minister and leader of the SNP.
Orkney SNP convener Robert Leslie said: “Nicola has been a tremendous leader of Scotland over the past eight years, not least during the pandemic, when her daily updates gave so much reassurance to folk across the country. It is little wonder that our First Minister has consistently been the most trusted party leader in the UK.
“From the times I met her while she was in Orkney, and at conference, Nicola has shown a remarkable down-to-earth attitude and a real human touch, which shone through again in her clear and measured resignation statement.
“During her referendum campaign visit to Orkney in August 2014, when as Deputy First Minister she held a Q&A session in a packed Orkney Theatre, Nicola was very aware, on a tour of Kirkwall businesses, that she was wearing a Sheila Fleet brooch when she was about to visit Kirkness and Gorie. I had explained to her that this was where Ola Gorie’s jewellery used to be made. As we headed down the lane to the shop she asked me if she should take the brooch off, but I assured her that Duncan McLean wouldn’t be offended in the least.
“The First Minister also took the time, on the back of her closing speech of the 2017 SNP conference, to console our daughter Isla shortly after she had narrowly lost out in the Orkney MSYP elections. When Maree Todd, a Highlands and Islands MSP at the time, introduced Isla to the FM and mentioned that she had missed out in the vote, Nicola gave Isla a hug and told her she’d lost seven election campaigns before being elected. It struck me at the time that this was such a supportive and encouraging thing to say to a young woman showing interest in politics, and who now works for our Highlands and Islands MSP, Emma Roddick.
“Nicola also has a sense of mischief, and I recall, during her 2016 Holyrood campaign visit, how she and our candidate Donna Heddle basically broke away from her staff to run along Albert Street for a look around Kirsteen Stewart’s shop when they really should have been heading to another meeting – grinning as they went.
“As Nicola said on Wednesday morning, we are on the final stages of Scotland’s journey to independence, and SNP members and campaigners in the wider independence movement across Orkney need to continue to work towards that goal more than ever. Each and every independence supporter needs to be a positive voice making the case for a fairer and more equal Scotland. The First Minister has brought us very close, but we need to respect her decision to pass the baton on for the final leg, and ensure we carry it through to the finish line.”