Li­brary dou­ble a fit­ting trib­ute to Charles Kennedy’s mem­ory

The Oban Times - - News - EMMA CRICH­TON ecrich­ton@oban­

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

Charles Kennedy

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