Tributes have been paid to Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone, who died last week at the age of 55.
Mr Johnstone – who represented the North East in an unbroken record of service going back to the formation of the Parliament in 1999 – passed away after a short illness.
Born in Kincardineshire in 1961 and educated at Mackie Academy in Stonehaven, Mr Johnstone spent his entire life in the north east of Scotland, where he built a successful career as a self-employed dairy and arable farmer.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson led tributes to Mr Johnstone after news of his death broke last Wednesday (December 7), saying he “embodied politics at its best”.
Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal said: “It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Alex Johnstone. He represented the area for more than 17 years in Parliament and was a champion for the North East. He will be a huge loss for the area and Scottish political life, and my thoughts are with his family, friends and political colleagues. As a mark of respect, flags at Aberdeenshire Council [were] flown at half mast.”
North Kincardine Councillor Carl Nelson said: “It is with a heavy heart that I write this tribute to my good friend Alex Johnstone. He was admired and respected by everyone who knew him. It is hard to believe that after such a short illness he has been taken from us, aged just 55 years. The deep sense of loss I feel is but nothing compared to that of his dear wife Linda and his family. My thoughts are with all of them at this difficult time.
“I knew Alex for over twenty years. During that time his personality never changed. Every time I met him he was the same – good company, enjoying a laugh, able to discuss any subject under the sun. It was a pleasure to have Alex and Linda as friends.
“The last time I spoke to Alex was when he was in hospital. He told me that on his final visit to Holyrood he hadn’t realised how many friends he had in the SNP. Good on them, they made Alex a very happy man.
“Now we must come to terms with being without him. His memory and all his good deeds will long be remembered. Rest in Peace, Alex.”.
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Wendy Agnew said: “I first met Alex many years ago when he was a member of Kinneff Young Farmers Club taking part in the annual inter-club public speaking competitions. Whether it took the form of proposing or opposing a motion or as a question time panel member Alex showed a natural enhusiasm, confidence and sincerity in whatever he was avocating.
“These same talents he developed and brought to the Scottish Parliament and applied to both local and national causes with equal measure. Alex will be missed by many and my thoughts are with Linda and the family.”