Hundreds of people are expected at the memorial service for SNP icon Winnie Ewing today

The ceremony at Inverness Cathedral this afternoon will be presided over by the Rev. Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Bishop of the Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness, and the Rev. Sarah Murray, Provost of Inverness Cathedral.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond and former Health Secretary Alex Neil will each deliver a eulogy with readings from First Minister Humza Yousaf, Speaker of the Scottish Parliament Alison Johnstone and Highland SNP MP and party candidate Kate Forbes.

Gaelic songs are sung by Julie Foulis, accompanied by her husband Eamon Doorley. Mrs Ewing’s granddaughter Ciara will also sing at today’s service.

CONTINUE READING: No official role for Nicola Sturgeon at Winnie Ewing memorial service

The service follows a private funeral attended by family colleagues and friends at New Kilpatrick Church in Bearsden last month and was attended by her son, MSP Fergus Ewing, officiating.

A statement from her family after her death on June 21 said she was “widely regarded as the most important Scottish politician of her generation” and “started the revival of the SNP movement that continues to this day”.

Ms Ewing, known as Madame Ecosse, became the SNP’s first female MP – and second MP ever – following her surprise victory in the Hamilton by-election in 1967, declaring after her victory: “Stop the world, Scotland wants to move on.”


Winnie Ewing at home with her three children, Fergus, Annabelle and Terry, pictured in the center of the photograph, shortly after winning the Hamilton by-election in 1967. Photo Newsquest.

Although she lost the seat at the next election in 1970, she was re-elected to Westminster for Moray and Nairn in 1974 and retained her seat at the second election in October of that year.

She also served in the European Parliament, representing the Highlands and Islands after losing her seat in Westminster in 1979.

After resigning as an MEP in 1999, she ran for the new Scottish Parliament and described the opening of the new Scottish Parliament as her most treasured memory.

CONTINUE READING: Tribute to the late “Madame Ecosse” Winnie Ewing

She said of the opening session: “I would like to begin with the words that I have always wanted to say, or say to someone else: ‘The Parliament of Scotland, adjourned March 25, 1707, is hereby reconvened.'”

Ms Ewing represented the Highlands and Islands until 2003 and was President of the SNP until 2005 when she left elected office. However, she remained a figurehead of the independence movement.

Her daughter Annabelle is also Deputy Speaker of the Scottish Parliament and flags were lowered to half-mast outside Holyrood following the announcement of Ms Ewing’s death.

Paying tribute to her final month, Mr Salmond said her triumph in the 1967 Hamilton by-election “defined modern Scottish nationalism” and ushered in a period of “uninterrupted” parliamentary representation. “Many politicians are adapting to the climate. Only a few determine the political weather. Winnie Ewing was one of them,” he said.

The former First Minister said she brought “star quality, electoral credibility and an internationalist attitude” to Scottish nationalism. Mr Salmond recalled observing her “legendary” ability to win voters as a young politician, saying she could “light up the three main avenues and add energy and panache to any election campaign”.

He said he “never forgot the lessons she taught me” and concluded that “above all she was a Scottish patriot”.

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will have no official role at today’s memorial service.

Describing her sadness at the news of her death, she tweeted last month: “This news breaks my heart. I cannot begin to express the deep gratitude I feel for the advice, wisdom, encouragement and inspiration Winnie has given to me and so many others over the years.

“She was a master of campaigning and it was a privilege to learn from her.”

She said Scotland has lost “one of its greatest patriots and advocates” and the SNP a “beloved icon”, before concluding: “Thank you very much #madameecosse.”

Mr. Yousaf was also among the politicians who spoke about their work.

He said: “No words can truly capture the unique and unparalleled contribution Winnie has made to Scotland and Scottish politics.”

“Their work over many decades – including in the British, European and Scottish Parliaments – shaped the modern nation we have today.”

Born in Glasgow in 1929, Ms Ewing earned a law degree from the city’s university before being elected to the British Parliament.

A statement issued on behalf of her family said of her death: “She is survived by children Fergus, Annabelle and Terry and grandchildren Natasha, Ciara, Jamie and Sophie.”

“She also had a deep affection for daughters-in-law Fiona and Jacqui. She was a loving and devoted wife to Stewart Martin Ewing who died in 2003 at the age of 76.”

Grace Reader

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