Library double a fitting tribute to Charles Kennedy’s memory
TWO LIBRARIES in Fort William could be named after the late Charles Kennedy.
Caol community council has suggested the facility, to be housed in the new village community centre, be called the Charles Kennedy Memorial Library, in honour of the long-serving MP who was born and raised in neighbouring Lochyside.
Lochaber high school also has plans to name its library, which opened last year as part of building renovations, after the former Liberal Democrat leader who was a pupil at the school. The community council made the suggestion at a meeting earlier this month to name the library in honour of Charles, who died in June aged 55. The idea has been passed to Highland council for approval.
The community centre, to be built next year, will be part of a hub including the new St Columba’s RC school, to replace the current Lochyside RC which was built on croft land gifted by Charles’ grandfather more than 50 years ago. Charles was one of the first pupils at the school and attended the 50th anniversary in September last year.
John Gillespie, chairman of the community council, said: ‘Most people we asked said they wanted to keep the name as Caol community centre, but a couple of people suggested the Kennedy Building, so we decided we would keep the community centre name as it is but name the library inside the Charles Kennedy Memorial Library.
‘ We thought a library would be fitting for Charles and it’s a nice way to continue his legacy.
‘It will need to be checked to make sure his family are okay about it but I think it’s a good way to commemorate him, especially as he came from Caol.’
Jim Sutherland, headteacher of Lochaber high school, said the parent teacher association made the decision to name the school library in honour of their ‘most famous pupil’.
He said: ‘Charles was a particular supporter of the school and our most famous former pupil, so we thought it would be nice to name it after him. Naming the library after Charles is a good way to keep his memory alive and we would like to have something at the entrance giving some information about his life. We haven’t decided on an exact name yet but it will be something in his honour and we will take steps to contact the family for their approval. I wasn’t aware the community council had suggested a similar idea for Caol, but I don’t see any reason why they can’t both be named after Charles.’
This comes after discussions into the possibility of erecting a statue of Charles in Fort William town centre, which has had mixed reviews.
Conn O’Neill, who worked for Charles in Fort William for a year until May’s general election, welcomed the plans.
He said: ‘Naming these new libraries in Charles’ memory strikes me as a lovely gesture especially considering the historic links of the Kennedy family to Lochyside primary school that will be relocating to the same site. Charles was an esteemed alumnus of Lochaber high so it would be nice to see him remembered there.’
And Conn feels a library would be a more fitting tribute than a statue, saying Charles previously joked he didn’t want to be known as “Kim-Jong Kennedy”.
‘People will remember when we opened our new office on the High Street that for a short while the window was decorated with a larger than life photo of Charles. To say he didn’t agree with my design would be an understatement. “Conn, I don’t want to be known as Kim Jong-Kennedy” was one of his quick-witted responses.
‘Charles was a modest and humble man who didn’t seek to impose and so erecting statues doesn’t strike me as the way to remember him in the Highlands.’
HONOUR: libraries in Caol
community centre and Lochaber high school are to be named in honour of