Charles Kennedy: Hundreds of people pay last respects at ex-Lib Dem leader's funeral

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

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Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader, was remembered for his humility as hundreds of people paid their last respects at his funeral.

Family and friends joined senior politicians and members of the local community for a funeral Mass at St John the Evangelist church in Caol, Fort William, in the Highlands. The politician died suddenly at his home on 1 June at the age of 55.

Preaching the homily, parish priest Fr 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.

“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.”

Lib Dem colleagues Danny Alexander, Nick Clegg and Sir Menzies Campbell

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

He said: “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’.”

Mr Kennedy’s former 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 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.”

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

Hundreds of people 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.