VIDEO: Mourners remember Kennedy humilty at former Lib Dem leader’s funeral

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Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has been remembered for his humility as hundreds of people paid their last respects at his funeral.

Family and friends have joined with senior politicians and members of the local community in large numbers for a funeral mass at the St John the Evangelist church in Caol, Fort William, in the Highlands.

The rear of an Order of Service is held outside St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland  where the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy was held. (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

The rear of an Order of Service is held outside St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland where the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy was held. (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

The father of one died suddenly at his home on June 1 at the age of 55.

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy dies suddenly at 55

Preaching the homily, parish priest Father Roddy McAuley said the “much-loved and respected parishioner” will be “sorely missed”.

He told 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.

Former Liberal Democrat Party leader Charles Kennedy whose funeral took place near his Highland home on Friday. 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. (Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Former Liberal Democrat Party leader Charles Kennedy whose funeral took place near his Highland home on Friday. 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. (Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire

“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.”

Fr McAuley also spoke of the family’s long-standing links with the church, and of the former MP’s love of music.

The priest said: “Ian and Mary Kennedy, the parents of Charles, Isobel and Ian, were both awarded the Benemerenti medal, Latin for the ‘well deserved’ medal, for their services to their church.

“The Benemerenti medal was accepted with great humility by Mary and Ian, and never displayed. That humility was inherited by Charles, Isobel and Ian.

(From the left) Danny Alexander, Nick Clegg and Sir Menzies Campbell arrive at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland, for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

(From the left) Danny Alexander, Nick Clegg and Sir Menzies Campbell arrive at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland, for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

“Mary played the organ and Ian the fiddle here in St John’s for over 40 years, and at their son Charles’s funeral today we are pleased to have a number of musicians who have come together to play, as they did for the funerals of his parents.

“Charles loved music and he famously quoted: ‘I couldn’t imagine a day without music. It relaxes and stimulates me in equal measure, and I hate the sound of silence - the concept I mean, not the track by Simon and Garfunkel’.”

He went on: “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.”

Nick Clegg (right) and Danny Alexander arrive at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Nick Clegg (right) and Danny Alexander arrive at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy’s ex-wife Sarah Gurling and their 10-year-old son Donald were among the mourners.

Senior Lib Dems Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Sir Menzies Campbell, Sir Malcolm Bruce and Michael Moore were also at the service.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney, former prime minister Gordon Brown and close friend Alastair Campbell were present, joined by Mr Kennedy’s partner Carole MacDonald.

Outside the church, a floral tribute of white roses from Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha carried the message: “The country has lost an extraordinary talent whose character and courage inspired us all.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Donald and all Charles’s friends at this incredibly sad time.”

Friend Brian McBride told those gathered that he knew Mr Kennedy was special from their first meeting 40 years ago.

Nick Clegg arrives at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 12, 2015. 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. See PA story FUNERAL Kennedy. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Nick Clegg arrives at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 12, 2015. 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. See PA story FUNERAL Kennedy. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

During the eulogy, he said: “He had a huge public service ethos, as an MP, party leader, a university rector, he wasn’t doing these things for the money - he was here to serve.

“Everything he did, every challenge he faced, was not about him, it always started with what it would mean for other people.

“A hugely sensitive man in private, no ego at all, and never putting himself first, proud of his roots, his family, his friends, there was never a second side to him.

“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.”

Mr McBride added: “His old friends were just as happy when he was able to make a reunion dinner or a university event.

“He was always Charles with a word and a smile and a story for everyone.”

After Mr Kennedy’s death, tributes flowed in from across the political spectrum and the local community in the Highlands.

Mr McBride told those gathered that he believed only Winston Churchill and John Smith have been so universally mourned.

“The Daily Record in their tribute referred to Charles as one of us, and to everyone in this parish, this town, this constituency, Glasgow, Scotland and throughout the UK, I think that’s exactly what you were Charles, one of us.

“Charles you take a special place in the hearts of family and friends as well as people all across the country, we shall always remember you.”

Following the service, which lasted more than an hour, a lone piper accompanied the hearse and coffin from the church, which sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis.

Hundreds of people, including children from St Columba’s RC Primary school gathered outside as the funeral cortege began its final journey for the private burial at Clunes, Achnacarry.

The crowd broke into applause as the hearse was driven past in a final tribute to the hugely popular former MP.

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Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy dies suddenly at 55

Sir Menzies Campbell arrives at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Sir Menzies Campbell arrives at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Danny Alexander (left) and Nick Clegg arrive at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland, for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Danny Alexander (left) and Nick Clegg arrive at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland, for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Media gather outside St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland  where the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy was held.

Media gather outside St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland where the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy was held.

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie (left) arrives at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie (left) arrives at St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Mourners listen to the funeral service of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy outside St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland.

Mourners listen to the funeral service of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy outside St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland.